Letter – The trucks are coming, or are they?

Published 6:32 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2022

To the Editor:

For months now the citizens of Suffolk have been told, “The trucks are coming,” because the Port of Norfolk is expanding. On the surface this seems logical given trucks travel U.S. 58 every day to and from the port, and a bigger port means more trucks right? VDOT does not see it that way.

VDOT’s transportation engineers now use a computer program to analyze current conditions and project future changes in freight traffic on state roads. The public can view the interactive maps for current and projected changes at https://www.vtrans.org/mid-term-planning/freight-plan.

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VDOT does not show Suffolk’s future truck traffic increases as being significant. The interactive maps shows Interstate 95 and Interstate 85 currently have high to very high truck traffic. U.S. 58 from the Chesapeake line to the end of the bypass currently has medium truck traffic. The other roads in Suffolk currently have low truck traffic.

Future projections out to 2045 show a different story. VDOT “truck flow growth ratios” show little to no growth on both Interstate 95 and Interstate 85. Very high growth ratios are anticipated for both the Hampton Roads and the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnels. Interstate 64 and Route 17 will have high growth ratios. U.S. 58 is projected to go from a medium to a high truck flow growth ratio. U.S. 460’s current low truck flow rate is projected to stay low well into the 2040s.

VDOT is planning on the truck traffic generated by the Port of Norfolk expansion to increase truck traffic primarily on Interstate 64 and Route 17. A smaller increase in truck traffic is anticipated for U.S. 58. U.S. 460 is projected to see a low increase in truck traffic. So while most truck traffic to and from the Port of Norfolk will use the Peninsula, some will be coming to U.S. 58. The changes currently happening on U.S. 58 are a result of VDOT’s research and planning.

The proposed 5 million square foot warehouse complex on U.S. 460 does not seem like a wise decision. The project will increase traffic from the current 25,000 vehicles a day to over 47,000 vehicles a day. Should we nearly double the congestion on a road VDOT projects to have a low increase in truck traffic?

Unlike what we are being told, no large numbers of trucks are coming to U.S. 460, unless we add a truck warehouse complex. While Suffolk traffic engineers maybe planning to widen U.S. 460, it is not in VDOT’s six year plan. Can you guess who is going to pay for this road widening project to nowhere? We are!

Chris Dove

Suffolk