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Residents weigh in on intersection project

The design public hearing Tuesday for the nearly $8.9 million Bridge Road and Crittenden Road intersection realignment project was much like any other the city has held — except this one was held outside at Bennett’s Creek Park.

Four stations were set up for people to view the project and ask questions to allow for social distancing, and people were required to wear masks. About 30 people turned out for the hearing Tuesday, which had been postponed from Thursday due to weather. Still, about another 20 people had showed up Thursday and also were able to provide and get feedback about the proposed intersection improvements for the North Suffolk intersection.

“The reason we’re doing this is because … on Bridge Road, you’ve got two roads that are not on equal elevations,” said Public Works Director L.J. Hansen. “And so there’s a dip that’s in the middle (that) causes a lot of problems for vehicles.”

He added that “it’s really about fixing this intersection, this non-functioning intersection (and) creating a better one.”

The intersection would reroute Crittenden Road to create a four-way intersection with a signal at Bridge Road, aligning it with Clubhouse Drive, while also addressing a projected growth in traffic to 29,000 vehicles daily in 20 years on Bridge Road south of the intersection. On Bridge Road north of the intersection, traffic projections are for 23,000 vehicles in that timeframe. Crittenden Road would see more than three times the volume of traffic, at 10,000 vehicles per day, in the next 20 years.

As part of the project, there will be a dedicated right turn lane from Crittenden Road onto Bridge Road, which Hansen said would help with morning traffic flow.

Dual left turn lanes would be put in on Bridge Road for traffic heading onto Crittenden Road, which will help with evening traffic flow, Hansen said, and there would be a right turn lane from Bridge Road onto Crittenden Road.

Hansen said the current intersection of Crittenden Road at Bridge Road would be closed, and it would have what’s known as a hammerhead turnaround to allow for large vehicles such as buses and garbage trucks to turn around. A stormwater retention pond, as well as storm drain facilities, curb and gutter, raised median, street lighting, sidewalks and other related items would also be part of the project.

Of the amount budgeted for the project, nearly $800,000 will go toward preliminary engineering, just over $2.2 million for right-of-way acquisition and more than $5.8 million for construction.

“We have a multitude of funding sources on this project,” Hansen said. “We have local funds, obviously. We have state funds and we have some federal funds. The federal funds will not get here until 2025. We’re trying to advance through the revenue share process some additional revenue share funds so that we can move the project up.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ralph Northam has delayed the six-year improvement plan, so the city does not yet know if it has been approved for the revenue share money.

“We have enough funding in place to keep moving,” Hansen said. “What we don’t have is the final funding necessary to complete construction, so we’re going to continue to move the project forward. It’s not going to delay us in any way, shape or form. We won’t know if it delays construction until we hear back.”

The money is there to complete design, acquire needed right-of-way and relocate utilities.

He said the timeframe for completing the construction of the project depends on the timeframe for receiving the funding.

“The project is fully funded,” Hansen said. “It’s just a matter of whether we have to wait for the federal funds in 2025 or whether we can advance it and get it started in 2022 or 2023. What we’d like to do is get started in 2022. We just don’t want to have to wait.”

Hansen said the feedback he’s received on the project has been favorable.

A June 12 letter from project manager Frank Grubbs to the Cedar Point Association noted that the project should take about a year and a half from start to finish, and would not disturb any of the Cedar Point neighborhood entrance items.

Grubbs said in the letter that he did not anticipate “extensive impacts” to traffic going in and out on Clubhouse Drive. The only work in the road, on Bridge Road only, would be taking out the existing asphalt and laying down new asphalt, along with installing or modifying pavement markings associated with the new traffic signal.

The work in the median to improve the intersection, Grubbs said in the letter, “will have a more significant impact on neighborhood traffic, although simple detours around the median break will still result in minimal traffic impacts.”

The project does not call for lengthening turn lanes into Cedar Point or repaving any part of Clubhouse Drive.

More information on the project can be found at www.suffolkva.us/1293/Crittenden-Rd. Public comments will be taken on the project through July 10.