Citizens worry about Benn’s Church traffic

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CARROLLTON—The big question at last night’s Isle of Wight Citizen’s Association meeting Monday seemed to be how developers would handle the increased traffic expected when the Benn’s Church development — a project calling for more than 1,300 housing units, retail space and medical and office space — became a reality.

County Planning Director Beverly Walkup said the transportation network was a concern when the development was considered.

&uot;What we are proposing is to build an additional road with a stoplight off Route 10 behind the church to handle traffic coming in from Suffolk en route to Route 17,&uot; she said. &uot;This would take the burden off the existing intersection.&uot;

The project at Benn’s Church — in addition to 430 homes being planned at St. Luke’s Village — has generated considerable attention from citizens’ groups and environmentalists concerned that the proposed development would add significant pressure on local streets and services.

Armada-Hoffler, the developer of the project, proposed building more than 1,000 single-family homes along Route 10. The developer then proposed to the county’s planning commission adding 225 apartments on the property.

The planning commission has a Sept. 25 hearing scheduled to discuss the project.

But at Monday’s meeting, the Isle of Wight Citizen’s Association invited county and state planning leaders to address the group.

Increased traffic in an already congested area was of major concern.

Walkup, the county’s planning director, said that through traffic coming from Suffolk heading into Smithfield would continue through the intersection as usual.

She added that vehicles eastbound on Route 10 coming from Smithfield toward Suffolk, and those headed toward Route 17, would also travel their usual route.

But vehicles headed toward Route 17 from Suffolk would take the lane behind the church, thus eliminating a bottleneck at the existing intersection.

&uot;In other words, if you passed the turnoff behind the church, you would not be allowed to make a right turn at the next stoplight.

&uot;Another thing we expect to happen,&uot; she told nearly 70 citizens and several county officials packed into a small conference room at the Carrolton Library, &uot;is that that many of the commuters currently leaving town for work, will find jobs here, thus eliminating quite a bit of the traffic congestion.&uot;

Walkup noted that several new businesses, including Wal-Mart and a home store would be locating at the planned shopping center at the development.

&uot;Then we also have a medical complex, including a small hospital eventually coming in.

&uot;This would create jobs and provide shopping and medical attention to residents, so many would not have to drive to another location.&uot;

Bradley Weidenhammer, Hampton Roads Planning District engineer with VDOT, assured residents that the roads would be able to handle the traffic.

&uot;We’re not going to have motorists leave four lanes of traffic onto a two-lane highway,&uot; as some residents questioned.