Major road project begins

Published 10:17 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Getting down Nansemond Parkway is going to get a little more complicated for Suffolk residents during the next year, as construction has begun on an expansive road-widening project.

Director of Public Works Eric Nielsen said workers have begun installing storm sewers near the intersection of Nansemond Parkway and Shoulders Hill Road.

“The intersection was chosen as the first phase, so it would improve congestion into the Northgate industrial park,” he said.

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This is part of the first phase of a plan to change the two-lane road into a four-lane divided highway, from the Commonwealth Railway to the Chesapeake-Suffolk border, at which point Chesapeake will continue the expansion all the way to Interstate 664.

The project also calls for the expansion of Shoulders Hill Road at the intersection of the two roads to include two left turn lanes, a through lane and a right turn lane.

“We’ve only started construction on phase one,” he said. “It does include all of the work to be done on Shoulders Hill Road.”

Initially, Nielsen said, Nansemond Parkway drivers will not notice much action on the road, but during the next couple of weeks, as the work gets under way, traffic flow will be affected.

For about a year of the project, Nielsen said, residents can expect one lane of the road to be closed, requiring both traffic directions to share a lane.

He said he isn’t sure when the lane closures will begin, because it is up to the project’s contractor, Branscome Construction, to decide when that work will begin.

However, Nielsen said, both lanes will be open during increased traffic times in the morning and afternoon.

He said people should be prepared for added congestion during other times.

The expansion project has been in the works for about two years, Nielsen said, but the original idea was about 10 years in the making.

The goal of the project is to take some pressure off of the road and meet increased traffic demands.

“By having dual turn lanes at the intersections, when you turn the lights green, they are going to flush out twice the amount of traffic that can be done with one lane,” he said.

The first phase is planned for completion by March 2013, Nielsen said, and the second phase of the project will begin that June.

The project is broken into two phases, because the second part of the project requires federal money, which makes it more difficult to complete, he said.

He said the city is exploring the idea of partnering with Chesapeake to complete the second phase.

Both phases of the project will cost an estimated $27.2 million in local, state and federal funds, according to a presentation given to City Council on June 15.