Parkway project progresses

Published 11:42 pm Saturday, June 2, 2012

Construction on the first phase of the Nansemond Parkway project is about nine months along.

Nine months since construction began on widening Nansemond Parkway, preparations by the city of Suffolk to purchase properties along the route mark a new phase in the lengthy project.

According to city Public Works Director Eric Nielsen, affected landowners have been sent notices of the city’s intent to acquire 30 Suffolk properties for the second phase, while the first phase is 45 percent complete.

Construction commenced on the $18.3 million first phase, from the Commonwealth Railway to Helen Street, last September, and completion is scheduled for February.

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But cooler winter temperatures would “most likely” push out to March or April the final work, besides landscaping and cleaning up, Nielsen said.

“In general, the surface temperature of the road must be 40 degrees and rising in order to install hot-mix surface asphalt,” he elaborated in an email.

“Sometimes the asphalt companies close during the coldest winter months. Consequently, if we are to finish the project as currently scheduled, we would need to have a very mild winter and to be able to install the final surface course of asphalt in accordance with Virginia Department of Transportation guidelines.”

While the first phase involves city and state funding only, Nielsen said, the $9 million second phase, which continues to the Chesapeake city line, is more complicated.

“That’s mainly federal money, and there’s a whole lot more steps … such as preparing an environmental impact study that we have been working on with the city of Chesapeake,” he said.

About four years ago, the two cities entered into a memorandum of understanding appointing engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates to prepare a National Environmental Protection Act document required by the Federal Highway Administration.

“Completion of this document is the first step in the (Phase Two) design process,” Nielsen said.

The project involves widening Nansemond Parkway into a four-lane divided highway from the railway to the Chesapeake-Suffolk border. Chesapeake will extend the project along Portsmouth Boulevard to Interstate 664.

“What we’re looking at doing is working with the city of Chesapeake and (treating) it as one project,” Nielsen said.

Chesapeake Public Information Coordinator Heath Covey said that city has not begun purchasing properties for its end of the project.

He could not say how many properties Chesapeake would acquire, but said only parts of properties would be affected.

Suffolk gave engineering firm Clark Nexsen the go-ahead to begin designing Phase Two in May, and according to Nielsen, the process should take about a year to complete.

Once the design is completed, right-of-way acquisition would begin, taking about another year, he stated, adding, “That would have us going to construction in the spring/summer of 2014.”

The project also involves relocating several hundred feet of sewer lines owned by Hampton Roads Sanitation District, plus relocation of a water main owned by Portsmouth, Nielsen stated.

“We have gotten all types of feedback,” he said. “When we know we’re going to have a major traffic disruption, when it gets complicated, we coordinate with the Suffolk Police Department.”