VDOT expects construction on Skiffes Creek connector road to start spring 2020

Staff writer

The Virginia Department of Transportation has selected a route for the Skiffes Creek connector road and anticipates construction to kick off next spring.

A 1-mile, two-lane road that would connect Merrimac Trail (Route 143) and Pocahontas Trail (Route 60) in southeastern James City County, the Skiffes Creek connector road is intended to lessen traffic congestion and improve emergency evacuation and safety in the area.

The recommended route rose to the top of a pile among different options because of its lower cost compared to other semi-finalists in the process, few environmental impacts and public support for the route, said Claudia Walsh, a consultant hired by VDOT to assist with the project.

The project, which is expected to begin construction in spring 2020, has an approved budget of $50.5 million through the state’s Smart Scale funding program.

The road is anticipated to be completed in October 2022, Walsh said.

Average weekday daily traffic on that area of Pocahontas Trail ranges from 9,700 to 16,100 vehicles per day. On Merrimac Trail, average weekday daily traffic runs between 15,000 and 19,800 vehicles per day in the study area.

VDOT whittled down potential routes for the road to a proposal that would create a four-way intersection where Green Mount Parkway and Pocahontas Trail meet. The road would then head north to link up with Merrimac Trail.

The other semi-finalist option would have connected Pocahontas Trail near BASF Drive to Merrimac Trail. That came with an estimated price tag of $49.5 million. The initial $41.7 million cost projection tied to the Green Mount Parkway proposal had been trimmed down to $40.8 million by the time a public hearing on the project took place at James River Elementary School on Wednesday.

Besides the $40.8 million earmarked for actual construction, $4.7 million is intended for right of way acquisition and $5 million for preliminary roadway engineering, according to an information sheet provided at the public hearing.

VDOT got started on study of the project in September 2017. During the following months and years, route alternatives were developed, studies conducted and public feedback was gathered at several public forums.

A June 2018 environmental study found that the proposed roadway would have few negative impacts on the surrounding area. No species that are threatened, endangered or special status are expected to be affected.

The project isn’t expected to require any residential acquisitions or relocations. The project is likewise not expected to necessitate relocation of any businesses in the area.

For folks who would like to weigh in on the project, a public comment period continues until May 25. Comments can be emailed to John Harman at JohnG.Harman@VDOT.Virginia.gov.

Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, jojacobs@vagazette.com, @jajacobs_

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