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VDOT presents preliminary Route 58 plans

The Virginia Department of Transportation presented preliminary recommendations for improvements to U.S. Route 58 during a public information meeting Thursday at Pioneer Elementary School.

VDOT has been studying the 70.5-mile long corridor between Suffolk to the east and the Greensville/Brunswick corporate limits to the west, and agency project manager Jerry Pauley said the recommendations are a long-range view of proposals for the corridor.

Pauley said VDOT hopes that by planning for changes now, it can avoid having to add additional lanes to the corridor. He said the goals of the project would be to improve the region’s overall economy, make the road safer and also work efficiently.

“The biggest thing that we’re trying to is to make the road operate better, more efficiently and make it work safer,” Pauley said.

VDOT estimates the total cost of all the Suffolk-area work to be between $4.7 million and $6.5 million. Its preliminary recommendations, with cost estimates per potential project, include:

4City of Suffolk: Reconfigure Route 58 crossover at Route 58 eastbound on-ramp in Suffolk to a restricted crossing U-turn, and reconfigure the existing crossover area and the on-ramp to a U-turn area west of the intersection. Use the U.S. 58 east on-ramp as a U-turn area. Minimal land acquisition may be required. Extend existing turn lanes. Cost: $800,000 to $1.1 million

4Holland Road realignment: VDOT recommendation to reconfigure existing alignment and remove reverse curve. Significant land acquisition and disturbance required north of Route 58. Minimal land acquisition and disturbance required; turn lane work may require minimal land acquisition. Cost: $2.7 million to $3.6 million

4: U.S. 58 and Longstreet Lane intersection: Reconfigure intersection of U.S. 58 and Longstreet Lane to a restricted crossing U-turn. Construct U-turn areas east and west of the main intersection. Extend all existing turn lanes on U.S. 58 to VDOT design standards. Realign Longstreet Lane with new realignment of U.S. 58/Holland Road. Cost estimate: $1.2 million to $1.9 million

Suffolk resident Kelly Hengler said she takes U.S. 58 to get to Interstate 95 and has no major issue with the corridor as is, but likes VDOT’s plans for it.

“This road, I think it’s fairly safe,” Hengler said. “I like the idea of the improvements and I very much appreciate the public involvement, because this is conceptual. So we’re getting this long before diggers are in the ground or all the tax money is laid out.”

Councilman Tim Johnson, in attendance at the meeting, said now is the time to think about the improvements.

“We are truly looking at (U.S.) 58 to make improvements for down the road because we need to start now because the problem is now,” Johnson said. “I appreciate what they’ve done thus far and I want to make sure that we as a city take it into account, because we’re the ones who make the decisions as to what we can do and what we can’t do, and what we can afford.”

When U.S. 58 was built, Pauley said there may not have been much rhyme or reason as to why crossovers were put into it, and whether the crossovers are in the right places and whether they need turn lanes or need to be removed.

“Some of them may not be big problems, but they’re places where there’s been crashes,” Pauley said.

Pauley said VDOT would provide the concepts for road improvements to the localities, and then they will turn it into an application for funding through the agency, using various funding mechanisms VDOT has. The agency will then score the project to determine whether the localities would get the project money, the score based on congestion, economic development, safety, environmental issues and land development.

“These are concepts,” Pauley said. “I recognize that a lot of people feel because we’ve taken the time to put them on a board and show them, this is it. No. That’s part of why we hold these meetings, because we drive these roads often (but) we don’t drive them every day.”

Acting Public Works Director L.J. Hansen said he wanted to get a feel for how Suffolk residents feel about the proposals for U.S. 58. He said some of the concepts presented might be new, but there’s a balance between long-haul and local drivers. He said Suffolk would have to take a look at what it might want to do, and how, potentially, to pay for the improvements.

“We’re waiting to get the final recommendations and then we’ll take a look at what those recommendations are.”