Council approves CIP

Published 6:33 pm Thursday, February 20, 2020

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City Council approved a 10-year, $883.9 million Capital Improvements Program and Plan Wednesday, with several residents asking for a turn lane on Bridge Road during a public hearing.

Spending in the first five years of the CIP would be $289.7 million. Both the five-year and 10-year amounts are 8 percent less than the CIP that was adopted by council last year.

“Some of that is a function of shifting and moving some of those projects,” said Tealen Hansen, city finance director, “and some of that is a function of that first year of projects becoming a part of our budget and (adding) more projects at the end.”

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The plan provides a 10-year outline for city spending on major capital projects and is renewed yearly.

In the first year of the plan, which will be factored into the proposed city budget for the next fiscal year, there is about $55.7 million in projects, including $44.1 million in general government expenses, nearly $9.8 million in public utilities fund projects, $1.25 million in information technology projects and $500,000 in stormwater fund projects.

The City Council passed the plan as it was presented, keeping intact first-year projects such as the start of a new downtown library and an inclusive playground in North Suffolk.

Most residents who spoke during a public hearing on the CIP asked that a turn lane be added on Bridge Road at Bernhowe Manor Lane as a means to make safer right-hand turns. Five people spoke about the need for a turn lane.

“We shouldn’t even have to stand here asking you all to do that because when you added all of those projects out there in front of us, around us,” said Edna Graves, who lives on Bernhowe Manor Lane, “you all should have considered that we were a neighborhood, a community there without any covering for us. … Going in and out of our community is dangerous.”

Public Works Director L.J. Hansen and City Manager Patrick Roberts said they wanted to wait until the Virginia Department of Transportation completes a study of the U.S. Route 17 corridor in North Suffolk before putting in a turn lane, which Roberts said would cost roughly $1.5 million.

“The city has, by way of revenue sharing funds and some Smart Scale funds, a project to address the intersection of Route 17 and Shoulders Hill (Road),” Roberts said. “And the improvements associated with that generally go from the area of about the Bennetts Creek Bridge all the way to Bernhowe Manor on the eastern end of the project, but they stop at Bernhowe Manor. They don’t really make the turn lane improvements that have been requested.”

Roberts said the city has asked the Virginia Department of Transportation “to go to the next level of study on Route 17” to evaluate the area from Bernhowe Manor Lane to the Chesapeake city line.

“They’ve somewhat reduced the scope of that study, but we await the outcome of that, which would dictate some of our next steps,” Roberts said.

L.J. Hansen said the city needs to know what the Route 17 corridor will look like before determining whether a turn lane at Bernhowe Manor Lane is the best solution. He said the city is awaiting the traffic study results to determine whether there would be a need for a third lane.

“There’s a number of questions that need to be answered before we can proceed to some type of a design,” Hansen said. “Without any idea of what that concept is, we’re not prepared at this point to put anything in the CIP.”

He said the results of the VDOT study should be ready within roughly two to three months.

Roberts said the improvements residents are calling for is an immediate need, but the city wants to be prepared to apply for state money to help do something about it. Also, he said the city does not want to add a turn lane now, and then potentially have to rip it out if VDOT calls for something different to be done on the Route 17 corridor.

“We fully agree with the concerns raised by the residents,” Roberts said.

The fiscal 2021-2030 CIP can be viewed on the city’s website at