Farm equipment now allowed on Route 58

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, July 25, 2012

COURTLAND—Southampton County supervisors on Monday voted unanimously to allow farm equipment to be driven on the Route 58 bypass between Camp Parkway outside Courtland and the City of Suffolk line.

“This has been done to a number of places in the state,” said Capron District Supervisor Bruce Phillips. “It’s a benefit to the farmer and I don’t think it’s a safety issue.”

When the four-lane was built in the late 1970s, the state prohibited farm machinery from using the seven-mile stretch of highway. A number of farmers contacted Phillips, requesting the change.

Franklin District Supervisor Barry Porter believes it would be safer for farmers to use the four-lane opposed to the more narrow country roads.

“If you’re on a winding road behind a tractor, you don’t want to pass,” Porter said. “In most cases on a four-lane highway you can pass.”

“We’ve had more accidents on single-lane roads and several included deaths,” added Berlin/Ivor District Supervisor Ronnie West.

The Virginia Farm Bureau also supported the request.

“We are not the only farmers that would like to see this section of 58 made available for ‘legal’ movement of farm equipment,” C. Daryl Butler, field services director for the Farm Bureau’s Southeast District in Carrsville, wrote in an e-mail. “I can think of five that I know who would like to see this change, and I believe there are others. I am certain the farmers would stay in the far right lane, leaving one complete lane open to traffic.”

Butler also noted that farmers would probably avoid the highway during heavy traffic, including on Fridays and holidays.

The request will be forwarded to the state for approval, said County Administrator Mike Johnson.