In split vote, council approves Nansemond Parkway project

Published 10:13 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2021

With a proposed project to make improvements to a portion of Nansemond Parkway four years in the making and running out of time to keep its state funding, City Council, in a split vote and with reservations, approved it.

Council’s vote following a public hearing at its Nov. 3 meeting was 5-3 in favor of moving ahead with the road work, with Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett, Lue Ward and LeOtis Williams voting against it.

Roger Fawcett, who made the motion to approve the project, said he was doing so only reluctantly, while Mayor Mike Duman said it was the best the city could do for now.

A previous plan for the now-$11 million project would have had two or three turn signals and also would have split the property of a pair of churches to reroute Bennetts Pasture Road to realign with Sportsman Boulevard.

Public Works Director Robert Lewis said the new plans include changing the access into and out of Nansemond River High School, adding a signal at the intersection of the parkway with Sleepy Hole Road and the addition of a stormwater retention pond on school property next to the stadium.

The current traffic signal in front of the school will be removed and the front entrance to the school off of Nansemond Parkway closed off. Instead, the new entrance to the school will be off of Sleepy Hole Road, and it will allow for 20 to 30 vehicles going to Nansemond Parkway to queue at the light, allowing for more traffic to move in a shorter period, Lewis said.

People coming from Driver will also have a right-turn late onto Bennetts Pasture Road, and the biggest change for those coming off of that road onto Nansemond Parkway will be that drivers will only be allowed to turn right.

One person at the public hearing supported the project, one was opposed and two others expressed reservations. Fawcett said he had concerns about the possibility of creating another cut-through with the Nansemond River Estates neighborhood and did not particularly like the design of the project.

However, Lewis said if council didn’t approve the project, the Virginia Department of Transportation would keep its portion of the money for the project and allow it to go to a different locality for a different project.

This story will be updated.