Saturday, October 08, 2005

Why Isn't U.S. 58 Finished?

The Patrick Henry Economic Development Council is paying $30,000 to hire Whitt Clement, former Secretary of Transportation, to lobby the General Assembly to raise funds for the completion of U.S. 58, the road that runs across the southern tier of Virginia, from Hampton Roads to the Cumberland Gap. Now the Danville Register and Bee is applauding the decision to hire him.

Here's my question: Why is it even necessary to hire Clement? Why wasn't the project completed a long time ago? Drawing upon my musty memory, I recall that U.S. 58 was a hot issue during the Wilder administration more than 12 years ago. As best I recollect -- and I'm willing to stand corrected -- the state issued $600 million in bonds to finance the four-laning of the highway, a project that was regarded as an indispensable economic development tool for the mill towns like Martinsville, Danville and South Boston that are strung like beeds along the length of the road.

Apparently, that $600 million -- which was a considerable amount of money back then -- was not sufficient to do the job. Does anyone know how much of the road remains unfinished, and how much more is needed? Is anyone asking why the job wasn't completed a long time ago? Why do we need to go back to the well?

2 Comments:

At 9:30 PM, Anonymous Scott Kozel said...

<<< Why wasn't the project completed a long time ago? Drawing upon my musty memory, I recall that U.S. 58 was a hot issue during the Wilder administration more than 12 years ago. As best I recollect -- and I'm willing to stand corrected -- the state issued $600 million in bonds to finance the four-laning of the highway, a project that was regarded as an indispensable economic development tool for the mill towns like Martinsville, Danville and South Boston that are strung like beeds along the length of the road.

Apparently, that $600 million -- which was a considerable amount of money back then -- was not sufficient to do the job. Does anyone know how much of the road remains unfinished, and how much more is needed? Is anyone asking why the job wasn't completed a long time ago? Why do we need to go back to the well? >>>

The Route 58 Corridor Development Program encompasses close to 680 miles and finances planning, environmental and engineering studies, right of way, and construction. Today, about 370 miles are four lanes or more, compared to 240 miles when the Program started. Work began on the east coast and is moving westward.

The Virginia General Assembly established the Route 58 Corridor Development Program in 1989 to enhance economic development potential across this largely rural portion of the state. Travel is being improved on the mostly two-lane, winding and hilly road, and most work is now completed through Henry County.

The original $600 million has been expended, and that sum never was envisioned to be enough for the entire corridor.

The 36 mile segment between I-77 at Hillsville and Stuart, was the subject of the newspaper article. It is a winding two lane highway through hilly to mountainous terrain, and about $330 million is needed to construct a modern 4-lane highway to replace that older highway.

All of the rest of US-58 from Stuart to I-64 in Chesapeake, is completed with 4 or more lanes and with bypasses of the towns and cities.

 
At 7:23 AM, Blogger Steve Haner said...

As Scott said, they've completed it as far as Stuart, with some good segments also completed to the west, but the mountainous segments which remain are the most expensive and challenging. Some of the money has gone into older stetches ther were already four lane but still needed improvement. There are sections of the highway where it is illegal to operate a standard tractor trailer rig because of the terrain (they are alot longer today than when that old road was designed).

The problems in that part of the state are very different than the problems in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Congestion is not the issue. And there is no way to move a manufactured good or a farm load over the Internet. The roads have to be there.

 

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