Traffic signals at the intersection of Ironbound and Longhill roads are fully operational, but city engineer Aaron Small estimates the final layer of pavement won't be applied until April at the earliest.
Although a base layer of asphalt was applied last month, Small said cold, rainy weather, combined with scheduling conflicts with Basic Construction and Curtis Construction, the two contractors responsible for the roadwork, have delayed the project. Crews need dry weather with temperatures at 50 degrees and rising for the top asphalt layer to be installed properly, he said.
“There’s a lot of little things that go into play,” Small said Friday. “We were pushing to get it done this past week, but there was another project at Christopher Newport that took priority so (the contractor) couldn’t get there, otherwise we would’ve had it paved today.”
Sidewalks and curbs along Ironbound Road are all completed and open to the public, he said, and traffic signals at the intersection have been synchronized with lights along Richmond Road to replace the flashing lights that were previously in place at the intersection. The last piece of this phase of the project is the installation of the top asphalt layer, along with final road striping.
“We’ve got to pave from up near the Richmond Road light all the way down to close to the school entrance beyond Middle Street, and then we’ll pave Longhill Road back to just about the Kiwanis Park entrance,” Small said. “It’s about an inch-and-a-half overlay over the entire road, so all of the little potholes and the rough road will be smoothed out.”
Another reason for the delay can be chalked up to the company producing the asphalt mixture for the road, which is planning to temporarily cease asphalt production and shut down next week for maintenance and renovation work.
“Typically, you won’t even do surface paving until April,” he said. “That’s the earliest realistic time frame, is probably April.”
Crews are also expected to replace the wooden poles and wires currently supporting the traffic signals at the intersection with permanent poles and mast arms in early March, he said.
About $3.5 million was budgeted for the first phase of the road project in the city’s Capital Improvement Program. The remaining two phases of the project won’t come until $5.2 million in Virginia Department of Transportation Smart Scale funding is issued to the city in fiscal year 2022.
The second phase of the project will add dual left turn lanes onto Richmond Road and coordinate the traffic signals at Richmond Road and Longhill Road. The third and final phase will add underground wiring, streetlights, an asphalt bike trail and a 5-foot wide concrete sidewalk from Longhill Road to Treyburn Drive.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.