Bridge work to be discussed

Published 12:32 pm Saturday, March 23, 2013


COURTLAND—The Route 35 Bridge project will be discussed at Monday’s Southampton Board of Supervisors meeting.

A follow-up discussion about the project is on the board’s agenda under Highway Matters for the March 25 meeting.

At the February meeting, the board voted 6-1 to proceed with the $13 million cost alternative to replace the bridge presented by VDOT. This plan will involve closing the road for 12-16 months, with construction set to begin in 2014.

Virginia Department of Transportation Assistant District Administrator Adam Jack, P.E. said in a letter addressed to board chairman Dallas Jones, that a Business Advisory Committee, consisting of five respected business leaders, had been formed in connection with this project in order to mitigate economic damages to the Town of Courtland during the closure period.

Jack states in his letter, “By working with business leaders we can make key decisions with appropriate input necessary to expedite the advertisement process and complete construction before major traffic impacts occur related to the Route 58 Interchange project.”

Jack also emphasized in the letter that he is troubled by the lack of trust from the Courtland business community and that VDOT is “committed to demonstrate our transparency and willingness to do what is right for the town.”

Amanda Jarratt, president of Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc., is on the advisory committee. She said other members include Bob Edwards, owner of Edwards Hardware; Kim Williams, bank manger with EVB; Lee Ann Alexander with Southern Sisters Restaurant and former sheriff Vernie Francis.

Jarratt said the committee has had one meeting with VDOT representatives, including Joe Lomax of the Franklin VDOT office. “We are brainstorming ways VDOT and the business community can work together to lessen the economic impact during the (bridge) closure period and try to work together,” she said.

“I am really glad VDOT reached out – I think it’s a good sign that we can work together in this process. I feel positive about the relationship moving forward,” she stressed.

The 83 year-old Darden Memorial Bridge’s weight limits for truck traffic were reduced to the lowest possible amount last summer.

While the new bridge is being constructed, a 7-mile detour will be put in place via Route 58 and Business Route 58.