Road project delayed as county waits for funds

Published 10:08 am Friday, February 27, 2015

With improvements to Rose Valley Road now complete, the reconstruction of Governor Darden Road has now become the Southampton County Board of Supervisor’s top secondary roadway priority.

Using federal money — and at no cost to the county — the Virginia Department of Transportation will widen the roadway and improve drainage from the town of Courtland to the intersection at Route 641.

Widening Governor Darden Road (Route 646) — a major arterial between Courtland and Sedley — to two 12-foot travel lanes does not come without challenges, though. A lack of funding, coupled with the recent construction of a bridge near Darden Scout Road with two 8-foot travel lanes will delay the construction. The project was once expected to be completed in summer 2017 at a cost of $2.02 million.

Originally part of the county’s six-year construction plan, the board will have to wait to make any formal plans until state funds become available. VDOT spokeswoman Laurie Simmons said that there is only $700,000 allocated for the improvement of Governor Darden Road, and that the board and the department of transportation have discussed alternative measures for construction until the adequate funds are raised.

The county would like to replace the bridge in order to make for a continuous 12-foot roadway. However, VDOT residency administrator Joe Lomax said that the bridge in place is structurally sufficient and, therefore, federal money will not be used to replace it once again. Lomax is also concerned that improvements to Governor Darden Road will create a driving hazard, as the bridge is significantly more narrow than the roadway approaches on either side.

As previously mentioned, the county and department of transportation are contemplating several different options for moving forward, including splitting the project into two separate tasks. Simmons said that the focus would first be on the area east of the bridge, and once funding is ample, to complete the remainder of the five-mile road — including the bridge — through Courtland.

County Administrator Michael W. Johnson said, however, that, “given the challenge of funding the bridge replacement, it may now make more sense to begin at the Courtland Corporate Limits and proceed in a northeasterly direction to the midpoint.”