Road widening project on schedule

Published 1:08 am Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Crews working to expand Portsmouth Boulevard and its Suffolk counterpart, Nansemond Parkway, remain on schedule for completion in fall 2018.

The notice to proceed was received in April to begin the 18-month, $27 million project of expanding the two-lane roads between Chesapeake and Suffolk into four lanes, which will reduce traffic congestion going into and leaving the Western Branch community.

“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.

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Portsmouth Boulevard will be expanded from the city line to Jolliff Road. Nansemond Parkway, which was previously expanded from Helen Street west to the railroad tracks, will be widened from Helen Street to the Chesapeake city line.

“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 both federal funding and Virginia Department of Transportation support.

Martin said the project is unique in that it requires shared planning 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.

Sidewalks and a 10-foot-wide, multi-use trail will also be installed to address safety concerns. Other additions will 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 storm water 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.