Road projects dropped from consideration

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Per a request from a representative of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the plans for three proposed road projects on Route 58 in the Courtland area have been dropped. This occurred during the Southampton County Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday evening.

This is a proposal to improve safety at Drewry Road and Route 58. It would involve people first taking right turns and then U-turns to either cross the highway or go to another direction. — SUBMITTED | VDOT

During the section on highway matters, County Administrator Mike Johnson quickly reviewed the potential concepts that would have specifically affected the area from Camp Parkway to Jerusalem Road in Courtland.

• The first plan could have meant building a “frontage road” behind existing businesses on the south side of Route 58 between the new Courtland interchange and Pulley Drive. A similar frontage road could have been built on the north side of Route 58 between Story’s Station Road and the interchange.

• The second idea would have involved conversion of the existing eastbound lanes to a frontage road serving the businesses along the south side of Route 58 from Jerusalem Road to Courtland. An intersection referred to as an R-Cut would have offered connectivity from the frontage road to Route 58.

• The third concept would have required building a bypass on the north side of Route 589 from Camp Parkway to the new Courtland interchange. This would have included grade separated interchanges at Camp Parkway and Story’s Station Road, and a connection from the new Courtland interchange to the bypassed segment of Route 58.

Johnson added there was a fourth plan, and that was to do nothing.

Even before those road projects were to be discussed, a handful of residents already had something to say about them during the citizens’ comment period.

• Jack Randall identified himself as a business owner in that area. He said he’s had numerous other business owners approach him about the projects.

“Of the three options, the third scares many,” Randall told the supervisors. “Please voice your concerns against option 3. One and Two have some significant ideas, particularly where safety is concerned. Leave speed limit the same until VDOT concludes its study. I ask the board do everything it can to protect that corridor.”

• Warren Simmons also noted that residents have expressed concerns about safety in the 58 corridor. He asked, “Gentlemen, what’s your hurry?” Further, Simmons said that now that Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization wants to act, the board is too.

“What impact will these options have on this area,” he continued. “We don’t need you to be just one of the good ol’ boys.”

• Capron Mayor Nick Kitchen echoed Simmons’ remarks asking, “Why now? And if you don’t reduce the speed limit, it’s going to flood Capron with traffic. The town already has one deadly intersection. One council member was killed there.”

He continued, “I’m also concerned about the money that would go into the options … I’m past my limit … Spend our money wisely, please.”

• Lynda Updike asked the supervisors to explore keeping the speed limit to 45 in the area at least for a trial period. She added that VDOT says it awaits input from board.

• Jim Hart of Courtland said that road area “is THE corridor of Southampton County. I feel we should have a meeting and a plan about it.”

• Mary Beth Washington of Boykins told the supervisors, “You have to listen. Option 3 should not be on the table. Look at it again. Take consideration of your constituents. Have meetings with them.”

Right after Johnson had later reviewed the projects, he added that earlier that day he got a letter from Christopher G. Hall, District Engineer for Hampton Roads District of VDOT:

“Per our phone conversation, I am requesting that you pull the Route 58 Courtland Business Corridor Safety Improvements (Smart Scale Pre-Application ID 4176-Pre) from further public discussion. We believe that based on the completion of the current Courtland interchange project and pending traffic study that it is pre-mature at this point to propose any further projects in this reach of Rt. 58. This is certainly a topic area we can revisit in the future when we have new baseline traffic data resulting from the current project.

I certainly appreciate your understanding and flexibility on this issue. Please let me know if this note will suffice for your needs to adjust scheduled public meeting agendas.”

To which it was added in discussion that a new project is proposed for Drewryville, which would have people cross the highway via U-turns.

The meeting for Thursday will still take place, but the focus will be on this concept.

After brief discussion, the board agreed to accept the request to defer on the three applications.