Stimulus money to benefit three roads

Published 9:42 pm Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The first few roads to be paved in Suffolk with federal stimulus dollars should be done by July of next year.

Routes 58, 13 and 32 will benefit from the $2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money the city received in September. The paving work should begin in April 2010, and should be completed within two months, Public Works director Eric Nielsen told the city council at its retreat last month.

The roads to be repaved with the money will be Holland Road from Lummis Road to the Holland bypass; Carolina Road from the railroad crossing at Obici Industrial Park to the intersection with Whaleyville Boulevard; Whaleyville Boulevard from the intersection with Babbtown Road to the intersection with Whaley Street; and Whaleyville Boulevard from the intersection with Robertson Street to the intersection with Boonetown Road. The sections to be repaved total about 15.75 miles.

Though the roads are not the worst ones in the city, Nielsen said, they were the most cost-effective because of the restrictions placed on the federal dollars.

“It’s a little different with this money,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “(The federal government) is requiring all the infrastructure to be up to date.”

That means, Nielsen said, that if any guardrails or signs along the roadway did not meet the federal government’s stringent size and material requirements, the money could not be used for that road unless the offending infrastructure also was replaced with the money.

“We had long stretches of guardrail (on other roads) that were in perfectly good shape,” Nielsen said, noting that paving those roads would have meant spending much of the money replacing things that didn’t need to be replaced.

“We tried to minimize the amount of infrastructure we were going to have to upgrade,” Nielsen said.

Suffolk’s $2 million windfall was part of about $22.5 million to be used for various transportation projects in Hampton Roads, such as bridge repairs in Norfolk and Chesapeake, extension of various left-turn lanes in York County and James City County, and signal system design in Portsmouth. Many localities, like Suffolk, decided to repave roads with the money.