Governor wants funding for 58 interchange at Courtland

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, January 19, 2011

COURTLAND—For 25 years, Southampton County officials have pushed for a flyover interchange where Business 58 meets Southampton Parkway/Route 58.

The project is included in Gov. Bob McDonnell’s six-year transportation plan, but County Administrator Mike Johnson isn’t holding his breath.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Johnson said Tuesday. “We’ve been close before and at the end of the day, we still don’t have it.”

McDonnell on Friday released his list of more than 900 projects on his transportation agenda, including the nearly $22.3 million interchange in Courtland.

Lauren Hansen, spokeswoman for Virginia Department of Transportation’s Hampton Roads District in Suffolk, said she understands that if the funding is in place, the project should be included in McDonnell’s six-year plan.

“It would have to have total funding for it to move forward,” Hansen said.

According to a breakdown of projects on VDOT’s website, $3.4 million has been set aside for the project and another $18.8 million is needed.

The project would not require any county funding.

“Transportation improvements are always funded with state and federal dollars,” Johnson said.

The project includes a grade-separated interchange where Route 58 Business intersects with Route 58 at the traffic light, he said.

“It would eliminate two crossings,” Johnson said. “At the Old Bridge Road location and at the light. Basically, the new interchange would realign Old Bridge Road, which goes to the wastewater treatment plant. You would be able to pass completely over that.”

Johnson believes the interchange is needed for public safety.

“Route 58 is the gateway to the Port of Virginia, so traffic is going to increase as the port grows and expands,” he said. “It’s really a public-safety issue. We still have a number of rear-end collisions there. The best way is to do away with the light.”

According to VDOT, the average number of vehicles traveling along Route 58 between Franklin and Courtland every day has grown from 7,050 vehicles in 1975 to 20,000 vehicles in 2009, with peak travel days seeing as many as 35,000 vehicles. At that rate of growth, traffic would increase to nearly 60,000 vehicles per day by 2035, and estimates conclude that the number of tractor-trailers utilizing this stretch of highway will increase 25 percent by 2013.