Southampton County seeks funds

Published 10:06 am Tuesday, August 24, 2010

COURTLAND—Southampton County will seek about $22.3 million in federal stimulus funds to construct an interchange at U.S. Route 58 and Jerusalem Road.

County Administrator Mike Johnson told the Board of Supervisors Monday the Department of Transportation would award $600 million through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Phase II program, or TIGER II. Of that total, $140 million will go toward projects in rural areas.

“This grant opportunity is highly competitive, and awards will be given to projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area or a region,” Johnson said. He added in correspondence to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission that the interchange “continues to be the highest transportation issue for Southampton County.”

Southampton has sought an interchange at the crossroads just east of Courtland since 1989, when 12,000 vehicles passed through every day. Daily traffic now stands at more than 21,000 vehicles per day, including 2,300 heavy trucks.

Johnson told the supervisors that the HRPDC, which includes Southampton and 15 other localities, endorsed the project at its meeting on July 21.

“The HRPDC understands that U.S. Route 58 is a significant corridor in the Hampton Roads region, and any improvements that enhance safety and mobility along this facility will benefit the Hampton Roads region,” HRPDC Executive Director Dwight Farmer said. “This facility not only moves people and goods, but also serves as a critical evacuation route for the residents of Hampton Roads and northeast North Carolina.”

The interchange was one of more than 800 projects deferred or eliminated by the Virginia Department of Transportation last year as it addressed a $2.6 billion shortfall in funding. VDOT estimated that engineering and right-of-way costs would be about $2.7 million and $1.3 million, respectively, while construction would be about $24.2 million.

In June 2009, the supervisors gave their support to an alternate, $5.5 million proposal for an at-grade intersection, where both roads would intersect at the same street level.

Under the at-grade plan, Old Bridge Road would be realigned to intersect with Jerusalem Road and 58 at a new signal. About 700 feet of the former Old Bridge Road would be removed and a turning lane installed on 58.