Plan includes roads, fire stations

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, February 7, 2019

Though Suffolk City Council focused on the need for a new downtown library during its Wednesday work session on its proposed $963.6 million Capital Improvements Program and Plan, there was no shortage of projects on the table.

The proposal provides a 10-year plan — updated yearly –—for fiscal years 2020 through 2029 on city spending for major capital projects. The current proposal is a $66.1 million increase from last year’s approved CIP and would be paid for through a combination of debt (55 percent), state and federal money (34 percent) and the general fund (11 percent).

In the first year of the CIP, the proposal calls for $50.9 million to be spent on the following:

  • $33.1 million on transportation projects
  • $6.8 million on public safety
  • $3.8 million on public buildings and facilities
  • $2.9 million on parks and recreation
  • $2.6 million on public schools
  • $1.7 million on village and neighborhood initiatives

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Just under half of the first year’s amount would come from state and federal revenue, another $21.1 million coming from bonds and another $4.9 million from a general fund transfer.

Mayor Linda Johnson said city staff has put a lot of work into a well-thought-out plan.

“Overall, I think it’s a good plan,” Johnson said. “I think the first year of it looks to be very responsible, conservative. It moves us forward, but it moves us forward in a direction I think we can all be comfortable that we’re not overspending or overdoing.”

Among the big-ticket transportation projects is $55 million for urban roadway improvements identified in the comprehensive plan, including $25 million for Holland Road and future projects to be determined. The Holland Road work would be paid for entirely through federal money, and 50 percent of the future projects would be paid for through state dollars.

As identified in Suffolk’s comprehensive plan, three specific intersections — Nansemond Parkway/Bennetts Pasture Road, Route 17/Crittenden Road and the Kenyon Road Connector — would be priorities and receive $15.9 million. Another $11.4 million in the first three years of the proposed CIP would go toward the Shoulders Hill Road/Route 17 intersection — $7.9 million from state and federal money, and the other $3.5 million local.

Another $8.1 million would go toward the Nansemond Parkway/Wilroy Road flyover, and another $7.6 million toward realigning and upgrading Pitchkettle Road from Constance Road to the Lake Meade Bridge.

Councilman Mike Duman said that while he has concerns about spending in certain areas of the CIP, including the proposed downtown library, he is mostly comfortable with the spending in its first year.

“I don’t have a lot of heartburn over this year’s CIP,” Duman said. “I’m just looking out years in the future.”

Councilman Roger Fawcett said he was pleased to see attention given toward public safety, particularly toward fire and rescue, with $4.2 million to replace three fire engines and buy two new fire engines for the planned College Drive fire station ($7.5 million) and the Nansemond/Wilroy station ($4.5 million). Another $3.2 million would go toward replacing eight ambulances and buying two new ambulances for the two proposed fire stations, and $500,000 in the fifth year of the plan would be put toward design costs for a three-bay fire station and public safety center that would serve areas around Routes 13 and 32 between downtown and Whaleyville.

“The north end fire station going up there on College Drive, you don’t have to look far and listen to the amount of calls that are going on in that north end, and it has stretched the resources out,” Fawcett said. “So with this coming on in year one and two, this is a big plus. This is a major plus for that part of the city.”