Roads ranked

Published 11:45 pm Friday, March 18, 2011

Second Godwin Bridge is a high priority

The Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization made its picks for the region’s top roads priorities Thursday, placing several Suffolk projects near the top.

Widening projects on the Mills Godwin Bridge, Holland Road, Nansemond Parkway and Bridge Road have been identified as some of the top projects that will be needed in the area in coming years.

“I think we came out very well, when you compare us to the rest of the region,” said Public Works director Eric Nielsen. “I think that speaks volumes about being able to prioritize, show and document our projects need to be near the top.”

Email newsletter signup

The Mills Godwin Bridge ranks second for bridge and tunnel projects in the urban roadway system, outranked only by Virginia Beach’s Lesner Bridge.

Nielsen said that project ranked so highly because of the burdensome detours that would be required if it were shut down for any reason.

“We had to do some work on the Godwin Bridge last summer,” Nielsen said. “It really highlighted the concern and the inconvenience of that bridge being put out of service for any length of time.”

A detour in either direction around the bridge would cost an hour or more, even with no traffic, Nielsen said.

“You also have the traffic congestion” in that corridor, Nielsen added. A study conducted last year showed the bridge, as well as Bridge Road, both need to be widened before their levels of service fall to unacceptable levels.

The addition to the bridge likely would take the form of a parallel structure so that there would be two lanes in each direction.

Likewise, Bridge Road would receive one additional lane in each direction.

The Route 58 widening is proposed to happen from the western end of the Suffolk bypass to Manning Bridge Road. That critical corridor has several developments in the pipeline, including the massive CenterPoint Intermodal Center.

“That’s been our council’s number one priority besides Nansemond Parkway,” Nielsen said.

Nansemond Parkway also will be widened by one lane in each direction. One portion of the project, from the Norfolk Southern Railroad crossing to Helen Street, already is funded and has been advertised for construction.

A second portion, from Helen Street to the Chesapeake city line, is listed in the outline of priorities.

Residents of Chuckatuck and Driver will be upset to hear that the King’s Highway Bridge was close to the bottom on the list of priorities.

“It was submitted and it was prioritized,” said Sherry Earley, an engineering manager with Suffolk Public Works. “It just didn’t make it on the top list they presented. It was closer to the bottom based on traffic projections and use of that bridge.”