Various road improvement plans moving along in SoCo

Published 1:16 pm Saturday, February 21, 2015

This is the Preferred Alternative to Route 460. -- SUBMITTED

This is the Preferred Alternative to Route 460. — SUBMITTED

On Wednesday afternoon, the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the “Preferred Alternative Route” for the U.S. Route 460 corridor, which could improve 17 miles of highway from Suffolk to just west of Zuni.

The approved resolution makes it “abundantly clear that there is no intention by the CTB to pursue corridor improvements west of the ‘Preferred Alternative Route,’ and officially endorses the ‘No-Build Alternative’ from west of Zuni to the western terminus in Prince George County.”

Although the project will only occur for 1.7 miles within Southampton County, the board of supervisors signed off on the highway improvements at their January meeting. Most notably, vice chairman Ronald M. West stated that such improvements along the highway and railroad intersection could bring a boom to the warehouse industry.

“It may be a good point to get on and get off and for quick transit back and forth to the ports, as far as warehousing and refrigeration go,” he said. “It may be a big help to Southampton County in that particular way, and not intrusive to farmland or wetlands — or anything else — as it travels through the county.

“I see it as a good thing.”

A new bridge will also be built “pretty close” to the existing route alignment in Southampton County before tapering back to the current road just before Route 635 (Tucker Swamp Road).

Such improvements are quite the disparity from the 55-mile highway that was originally planned, and on which the state has already spend in excess of $300 million, despite the lack of any construction. Had the previous plan for Route 460 gone through, it would have created an entirely new highway through Southampton County, just south of the existing route.

The board of supervisors will give their official update on the project during Monday night’s meeting.

Several other highway matters are on the agenda, as well, including an update on the intersection improvement at Statesville Road and Cypress Road near Newsoms.

Supervisor Glenn Updike initially brought the narrow turning radius to the board’s attention back in November. He said that widening the intersection to better accommodate the right turns of tractor trailers was necessary.

“It’s a safety and convenience issue, and should be a top priority of VDOT,” he said.

With the ability to make a right turn, truck drivers could avoid the small town altogether. It would also make for a shorter commute for those traveling east on Route 671.

According to the agenda, VDOT’s Jerry Kee staked the right-of-way at the intersection within the past week, and hopes to return to the site when the weather clears. If all goes well, he hopes to develop a game plan by the end of the month, although the department originally planned to have done so within 30 days of the board’s initial contact.