>Hwy 70 Corridor Project

>Guest Blogger: Mr. Rodger Whitney

There was an interesting meeting on Thursday night at Brinson regarding these spots in particular and touching on the entire “Super 70” idea.

70 Corridor Project, James City area

After listening to the discussion on 9-10-09, I did some research and made some observations.

I hope you do not mind my sharing them with you.

1. Even if the alternative of a complete bypass was selected by the DOT next week, the final results, in terms of it being open and useful, would be at least 20, probably 30 years out.

Worse, on the route chosen, there would be no benefit until it was completely operational. Unlike some projects that can be done in sections and some traffic rerouted even before completion, this is all or nothing.

2. The data furnished and my own personal observations over the years leads me to the conclusion that leaving the two intersections at Williams Road and Airport road as they are today is not acceptable.

The recent modifications in terms of adding a turn lane and the signal adjustments has helped, slightly, however, the underlying problem of highway 70 traffic remains. A quick look reveals a great deal of commercial traffic, local traffic and yes, traffic on Friday afternoons and Sundays is heavily oriented toward vehicles that appear to be beach traffic.

Conclusions:

Whether the entire Super 70 concept is fully implemented or not, the bridging at Williams and Airport roads needs to take place.

The objections concerning the disruption have merit.

I would propose that businesses affected, which would extend beyond the actual area under construction due to the inconvenience factor should be compensated to the tune of 20% of their average revenue for the period 24 months immediately prior to the beginning of construction paid Monthly. The tax records, Sales and Income should be used to determine actual revenues.

Yes, this does raise the costs, however, the ultimate cost of not assisting these businesses is even greater as a long term negative.

The period of 24 months matches the period the construction is anticipated to take.

Which brings us to the next point. There is no reason that this construction should require 24 months. It can be done quicker by committing the necessary funds and hiring the people up front to get the job done quickly. 2 shifts, six days a week as opposed to slowly releasing funds and using minimal work crews.

This should not result in a large increase in cost as the man hours required would be the same, simply done in a shorter time frame. It would also mean the payments to businesses would be for a shorter time, though I firmly feel the payments should go for one month after the project is completed.

Disruption can also be minimized if certain projects are done ahead of the main project. One item that can and should be done ASAP is the removal of the McDonalds/Citgo unit and the making of the area into a through street extension of Williams. There will be some extra room, which can be used for the construction office when the main work begins. As utilities are already nearby, a portable office can be connected at minimal cost.

The creation of a cut through, using the Food Lion lot is viable. It is also to the benefit of these stores. The parking impact, as outlined, is negligible and making it easier to get to these stores for a number of people can only help them. Properly presented, the businesses involved will understand the truth of this.

Please note: If this project is NOT done, these businesses are still going to suffer as getting to and from the area becomes harder and more dangerous. The ultimate impact should be a positive as an improved and safer environment will make it easier to shop the area.

Summary:

We cannot have a situation that adds residents in Township 7 and does not allow the traffic to flow better on the major artery in and out of the area.

A bypass, while possibly a better long term solution and one that may need to be pursued instead of extending this idea further down 70, will take too long. These two bottlenecks will become more clogged and more dangerous.
At some point, unless modernized and bridged, the DOT will have little choice but to close one of them. They are too close together to remain as they are.

Action:

Work with DOT and other agencies to eliminate the Citgo/Mcdonalds unit and create that street ASAP.

Proceed with actual planning and funding for the overpass project.

Proceed with the creation of the Food Lion Street.

Sell the project to James City residents, making it clear that their access will get better and safer. Emphasis on Safety and more convenient. If the Food Lion access is completed before the main project begins, that should be easier to do as they will have a tangible signal that they will not be ignored.

I understand their feelings. They have to be respected and know that their concerns are being heard.

I do not pretend that this a perfect plan or idea. I do feel that it is workable and necessary.

I also feel that like most road projects, it should have started years ago.

I understand the problem government has in trying to anticipate growth and do something. The public seldom wants to hear it when they should be planning, yet when the situation becomes bad, they will blame government all day long.

Government has to begin to think in terms of selling the ideas and needs.

This is a time that we do not have a crisis…yet…but it will become one if action is not taken quickly. We may not be able to resolve the whole idea of a super 70 for the entire distance, but we should certainly resolve these two overworked, unsafe and inconvenient intersections.

Author: Mr. Rodger Whitney, Owner of Images by Rodger Photography and Videography, Website

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