City Council gets update on transportation projects

Published 10:40 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2019

More than 70 percent of the city’s current transportation projects should be either under construction or completed in the next three years, according to Public Works Director L.J. Hansen.

Of the 42 projects currently in the works, which include transportation-related drainage issues, 18 are in the design phase, according to Hansen, while another eight are in the process of right-of-way acquisitions, two more are having utility relocation work done, 10 more are under construction and four are in the final stages.

“Each one of those 42 projects represent something that we’re either working with (the Virginia Department of Transportation) on, and that we’re having to track individually through and work through the system, or it’s a project that’s funded entirely by local funds,” Hansen said during an update on the projects at the Oct. 16 City Council meeting. “It’s keeping us busy.”

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City Manager Patrick Roberts estimates the number of transportation projects across Hampton Roads is at the highest level during the past 20 years. He said with the start of a new cycle of updating the city’s Capital Improvements Projects and Plan — something he said would be ready for council to review in January — he wanted to update council on the status of ongoing projects.

“We’re obviously taking on projects that have importance to neighborhoods, key intersections and commercial and residential corridors throughout the city,” Roberts said.

Projects that are essentially finished, Hansen said, include phase two of work on the Nansemond Parkway, the Colonial Drive relocation and the U.S. Route 460 culvert work.

Even though the ribbon cutting took place in May on the Nansemond Parkway project, Hansen said there were still punch-list items and issues to sort through with VDOT. He also said the work on the Route 460 culvert is already paying dividends for the city.

The Colonial Drive relocation project has been “a little bit of a challenge for us,” but related maintenance work in that area was also able to get done, Hansen said.

Two other projects — one to install flashing yellow arrows at intersections, as well as replacing the Badger Road, Simons Drive and Southwestern Boulevard bridges — are also wrapping up.

“Those were all steel-wood structures that creaked and groaned and were structurally deficient, meaning that we had a difficult time with school buses and fire trucks getting across them,” Hansen said. “Now, they’re replaced with pre-stressed concrete, and those are going to last us many years into the future with a much lower maintenance cost.”

The Old Mill Road bridge replacement is just under way, while the North Suffolk wetlands crossing, which had a delay in starting, is on track, Hansen said. He hopes for the wetlands project to be wrapped up by the beginning of 2020.

Hansen said utility and demolition crews are out on Holland Road, as the utility crews are relocating power lines, gas lines, cable and internet.

“We’re going to prove and do what we can do ensure that we manage the traffic on this corridor during a difficult time,” Hansen said. “But there’s going to be some impacts on Holland Road, and our goal is to minimize them to the degree that we can and make sure that traffic continues to move.”

And, though classified as separate projects by VDOT, simultaneous work is ongoing for both the Mineral Springs bridge replacement and rural drainage improvements, Hansen said. He expects those projects to also wrap up in early 2020.

Hansen said there would be public information meetings on the Crittenden Road and Bridge Road intersection and the rail flyover on Nansemond Parkway at Wilroy Road in January 2020, and a public hearing at council in either November or December of this year on the Bennetts Pasture Road and Nansemond Parkway intersections improvement projects for the city to obtain the necessary right-of-way. The city is willing to hold a public meeting on the Pruden Boulevard and Prudence Road intersection improvement project.

Hansen said the city has moved from the design to the right-of way phase for the Bridge Road at Shoulders Hill intersection improvements. The city plans to acquire temporary easements for the Portsmouth Boulevard sidewalk project, he said, while design is under way for the Pitchkettle Road realignment.

“This is a legacy issue,” Hansen said of the Wilroy Road bridge replacement before the U.S. Route 58 bypass. “It (came) to us when the roads were turned over to us from VDOT. It was originally a culvert, and was replaced with a bridge over the culvert but no work was done to stabilize the culverts when they did that, so what’s happened over time is that the culverts have failed and there’s not enough shoulder to support the guardrail. That’s why we’ve had to make some adjustments.”