Road widening project on schedule

Published 9:56 pm Monday, May 22, 2017

Crews are working to reduce traffic congestion between Suffolk and Chesapeake with a project that has been many years in the making.

The work to expand Nansemond Parkway and its Chesapeake counterpart, Portsmouth Boulevard, began when crews received notice to proceed in April. Both will be expanded into four-lane roads in the span of 18 months.

At just under two months of work so far, the $27 million project remains on schedule to be completed in fall 2018, weather permitting.

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“We’re just getting out of the gate, but we’re on schedule,” said Matthew Martin, lead engineer with MBP construction consulting and construction manager on the project.

Nansemond Parkway will be widened from Helen Street to the Chesapeake city line. It has previously been widened from Helen Street west to the railroad tracks. Portsmouth Boulevard will be expanded from the city line to Jolliff Road.

“This is a highly-traveled corridor, and what’s existing out there now doesn’t have the capacity for the average, daily traffic on the roadway,” Martin said.

MBP is partnering with contractor Branscome Inc. and the cities of Chesapeake and Suffolk. The project received federal funding in addition to support from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Martin said the project is unique in that it requires cohesive planning and execution between the two cities.

“We see it as a great show of regionalism with the two cities working together,” said Earl Sorey, assistant director of public works for Chesapeake.

The project will also address safety concerns. Sidewalks and a 10-foot-wide, multi-use trail will be installed. There will also be a raised median with protected turn lanes, enclosed drainage, curb and gutter and storm water management features.

“As you expand the road, you increase the amount of runoff, and you need an expanded stormwater system to accommodate for that,” Sorey said.

Sorey recommended that drivers watch their speeds and be mindful of the workers as they pass through the corridor in the months ahead.

“Any support like that from the community would be greatly appreciated,” he said.