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SPSA agrees to $39.3 million Route 58 flyover project

The Southeastern Public Service Authority’s board of directors has agreed to a nearly $39.3 million project to build a flyover roadway near the entrance to the regional landfill and near the intersection of U.S. Routes 13, 58 and 460.

The board agreed by voice vote at its May 26 meeting to have the Virginia Department of Transportation build it, and then pay for it through the use of municipal tipping fees. It also agreed to amend its fiscal 2021 budget by $908,110 from the landfill expansion and closure fund balance and by nearly $2.2 million from the fiscal 2022 budget, with that money also coming from the landfill expansion and closure fund balance.

VDOT estimates that preliminary engineering will cost around $6.7 million, while right of way and utilities nearly $3.7 million and construction more than $28.8 million. The project, and its cost, are being spread out over six years.

The flyover is to be specifically designed to handle traffic coming from Route 58 east, allowing traffic to cross the westbound lanes and enter the landfill without intersecting with westbound traffic.

Right-of-way acquisition is slated for September 2022 through March 2023, with utility relocations taking place over the following 12 months. VDOT expects to advertise the project in November 2023, award the bid then build it over a two-year period from April 2024 through April 2026.

Initially, when SPSA member localities renewed their use and support agreements with authority, it had planned to seek Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission money because having better access to the regional landfill “is a regionally beneficial project.”

However, HRTAC money was no longer allowed to be used when the General Assembly changed the organization’s focus from safety to dealing with congestion.

SPSA had also attempted to get funding through a federal grant program and later applied for Regional Surface Transportation Planning money through the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization.

Though the authority received $500,000 in grant money for it, it is not available for more than six years, and the project has to be completed by June 30, 2027, when the regional landfill is expected to be at capacity.

That’s because the authority’s conditional use permit with Suffolk requires an alternate entrance into the regional landfill before a new cell — the 73-acre Cell VII that borders Route 58 — can accept waste.

The flyover has a design speed of 35 mph and will be located near the intersection at U.S. Routes 13, 58 and 460 about 3,000 feet east of the existing landfill entrance at the Bob Foeller Drive/Welsh Parkway intersection. The proposed location is the result of a 2016 traffic impact study from HDR Engineering.

The proposed design calls for a right, eastbound exit ramp for traffic entering the landfill from that direction. Traffic leaving the landfill, according to SPSA documentation of the project, will continue to use roads currently in place.

City Manager Al Moor on April 26 signed a letter confirming that construction of the flyover was in “substantial conformity” with VDOT’s conceptual drawing and would meet the conditional use permit’s requirement to build alternate access.

SPSA officials have said that without a flyover, the regional landfill cannot be expanded and waste would have to go to private facilities at a higher cost and an increase in carbon footprint and losing environmental oversight in handling waste.

They’ve also said that with more than 80,000 vehicles traveling that stretch of road daily, the current intersection at the regional landfill serves as its entrance as well as the first point for a U-turn from the west. In a January presentation to the HRTPO, it also cited numerous side-impact collisions and the death in 2019 of a SPSA employee. Timothy Lynn Shumaker, 56, of Carrsville, died in his Jeep when it collided with a tractor-trailer at the entrance to the landfill at about 7:30 a.m. on April 5, 2019. He had been a mechanic for SPSA for 21 years.

Without the flyover, the authority would have had to look at a possible second entrance to the regional landfill along Nansemond Parkway.

The project includes right-of-way impacts to four properties, including the city of Portsmouth and SPSA, and utilities in the area will likely need to be moved. Impacts to wetlands are also anticipated, and an environmental assessment will be needed to determine any impacts along with any related permitting and mitigation requirements.

The authority also cited economic impacts by having the region’s waste managed there, and said that without a landfill, it would be “less likely to attract interest in economic development.”

SPSA members include the Western Tidewater localities of Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight County and Southampton County, as well as Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.