Transit projects proceed

Published 10:55 pm Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Transportation projects in Suffolk are moving forward on a number of fronts, according to presentations during a City Council work session on Wednesday.

Four presentations covered seven construction projects, public transit improvements and a number of developments out of the Suffolk Executive Airport.

“All of the reports speak to progress,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said.

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The City Council celebrated an award of nearly $5.5 million in matching funds from the Virginia Department of Transportation Revenue Sharing Program. The money will help the city advance six projects.

The money includes $800,000 for the Nansemond Parkway and Wilroy Road intersection improvements. The city hopes to install turn lanes to allow traffic to move at the intersection even when a train is crossing the nearby tracks.

Another project funded to the tune of $500,000 is the Godwin Boulevard and U.S. Route 58 interchange project, which Public Works Director Eric Nielsen said will involve installing double right-turn lanes at the top of the westbound off-ramp to help keep traffic from backing up onto the bypass.

Other projects funded include the Kenyon Road connector, which will divert truck traffic away from residences and a high school on the road; Chuckatuck village intersection improvements; College Drive and Harbourview Boulevard intersection improvements; and culvert upgrades at Sadler Pond, which will solve some flooding issues.

Vice Mayor Charles Brown asked the city to hold community meetings to advise area residents of some of the projects.

“I just believe in communication,” he said.

In the realm of public transportation, the City Council heard a presentation about changes to Suffolk’s public transit program. New buses with a new logo have been purchased and are on the streets, and a move is underway to relocate the transfer station from Cherry Street to North Main Street’s Market Park. A new route also has been added that serves Holland Road.

Ridership also has increased in the last year, said L.J. Hansen of Suffolk Public Works.

“I thought (Hampton Roads Transit) was OK, but Suffolk Transit is a tremendous improvement over HRT,” Brown said.

At the Suffolk Executive Airport, fuel sales have increased, and the airport’s box hangars are 100-percent occupied, Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes reported. Two twin T-hangars and one single T-hangar are available, which is no change from earlier in the year.

Take-offs and landings increased in the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2013, for an increase of 15 percent over the same period the prior year. There was a 42-percent increase from the previous quarter.

Nielsen also told City Council that a VDOT representative will provide a presentation within the next two months on the U.S. Route 460 project. Nielsen said cable work going on along the highway is by Mid-Atlantic Broadband, which provides high-speed, open-access, fiber-optic network for the southern part of the state.