Early stages of SPSA flyover project leave few surprises

Published 7:39 pm Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Southeastern Public Service Authority’s $39.3 million flyover project near the entrance to the regional landfill and near the intersection of U.S. Routes 13, 58 and 460 is in the early stages of the design process, and so far, has not seen “a whole lot of surprises or gotchas.”

Former Suffolk Public Works Director L.J. Hansen, who holds the same job now in Virginia Beach and serves on the SPSA board and on its Flyover Oversight Committee, told the SPSA board during its Dec. 8 meeting that a meeting earlier in the week with Virginia Department of Transportation representatives has “reaffirm(ed) what they suspected — there’s some poor soil that is out there,” something he said has been accounted for in the project budget.

“They feel confident that we’re still on track for both the budget and the design,” Hansen said during SPSA’s Dec. 8 meeting.

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VDOT has estimated preliminary engineering costs to be around $6.7 million, right of way and utilities nearly $3.7 million and construction more than $28.8 million. The project and its cost, being paid for through the use of municipal tipping fees, are being spread out over six years.

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

Hansen said the environmental process of the project has a public participation component, and while most SPSA projects would include a public hearing, the committee — which also includes Suffolk Public Works Director Robert Lewis — recommended the flyover project to advertise a willingness to hold a public hearing, allowing for one if there is sufficient public interest.

However, Hansen said that because the flyover project does not impact many people or businesses, “it seems likely that there will not be a call to hold a formal public hearing.”

If one is needed, Hansen said it would be held Feb. 11. He said VDOT representatives would be available to come to the Jan. 26 SPSA board meeting to outline the scope of the project. Board members voted to invite VDOT to next month’s meeting.

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

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 will be sited about 3,000 feet east of the existing landfill entrance at the Bob Foeller Drive/Welsh Parkway intersection, the proposed location the result of a 2016 traffic impact study from HDR Engineering. The proposed design also has a right, eastbound exit ramp for traffic entering the landfill from that direction. SPSA documentation of the project shows traffic leaving the landfill will continue to use roads already in place.

 

SPSA executive director stepping down

SPSA executive director and chief executive officer Liesl DeVary, who has served in those capacities along with being its chief financial officer since December 2017, is leaving the authority at the end of the year.

DeVary had previously served as SPSA’s deputy executive director and chief financial officer for eight years.

Following a closed meeting, the board agreed to appoint current deputy executive director Dennis Bagley as its interim executive director and increase his compensation by 10%, effective Jan. 1. It will also advertise for a new executive director with a salary range of $175,000 to $190,000. It expects to receive applications beginning in January, and could fill the position by next April or May.

The current budget for salaries for executive director, deputy executive director and executive administrator is $412,757.

The board also said it planned to split the roles of executive director and chief financial officer into two positions instead of one to keep more of its senior leadership in place. It voted to authorize a chief financial officer position in its fiscal year 2022 budget.