Residents weigh in on Skiffes Creek Connector alternatives

jojacobs@vagazette.com

Proposed alternative routes to connect Route 60 and Route 143 received a public review Thursday. Some residents expressed concerns about the usefulness of the $50.5 million project, while others wanted to see more community outreach as the project develops.

The Skiffes Creek Connector would be a two-lane road running near the Walmart Distribution Center to connect Route 60 (Pocahontas Trail) and Route 143 (Merrimac Trail) in the eastern part of James City County. The project is intended to direct industrial traffic away from James River Elementary School and provide a new access point to Fort Eustis.

Just where exactly the two-way route would run is still being determined. The forum brought people out to learn more about the project and share their thoughts on proposed alternatives with Virginia Department of Transportation officials.

VDOT recommends two alternatives be retained for further study out of several options created at the beginning of the study. The state transportation department wanted to collect public input on the project as it continues to develop, Project Manager Scott Smizik said.

Both recommended alternatives would connect with Route 60 near Green Mount Parkway, with one option creating a four-way intersection with the road. Both alternatives would connect on Route 143 near the Interstate 64 exit 247 access.

Other options aren’t recommended for further study for a variety of reasons, including traffic safety concerns.

Resident Claude Gilmer expressed concern about the project in general, saying if additional road improvements don’t take place in Lee Hall, traffic will continue to be congested in the area.

“I think they’re wasting their time,” Gilmer said.

Other people wanted VDOT to communicate more with the area’s residents regarding the project.

“I would like to see more meetings, I would like to see more fliers on our doors,” resident Elnita Lightfoot said. “Then when they have a meeting, they’ll have more information about what we really want here. Because as it stands now, I don’t think they really know what we were expecting.”

Phyllis Cain echoed Lightfoot’s concern, saying she would like to get additional information on the project.

The option in which the connector would link with Route 60 at its intersection with Green Mount Parkway makes more sense than the other recommended alternative, because it would be the easier of the two for trucks coming out of Green Mount Parkway to get onto the connector, resident Pat McCormick said.

Another public meeting on the project will be held in either August or September. A final decision by the Federal Highway Administration on the project is expected in spring 2019, and then design work on the construction will start.

A public comment period will run until Feb. 25. Comments can be submitted to Smizik at scott.smizik@VDOT.Virginia.gov or mailed to Smikzik at VDOT Environmental Division, 1401 E. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23219.

Skiffes Creek Connector project

For more information, visit virginiadot.org/projects/hamptonroads/skiffes_creek.asp.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

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