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2018-05-16 / Front Page

County seeks funding for Nash Road project

By Jim McConnell SENIOR WRITER

For the hundreds of Chesterfield residents who use Beach Road during their weekday morning commute, successfully negotiating its snaking curves and dramatic grade changes is only the beginning of the adventure.

With cars lined up nose to tail trying to turn left at the intersection with state Route 10, about a mile east of state Route 288, getting to work on time can be a challenge.

Traffic in that area typically is even heavier in the evening because many employees at the county government complex head home at roughly the same time and exit onto Route 10.Chesterfield Transportation Director Jesse Smith says the county is seeking state funding to extend Nash Road   to state Route 10 to alleviate traffic congestion on Beach Road. Photo by Ash DanielChesterfield Transportation Director Jesse Smith says the county is seeking state funding to extend Nash Road to state Route 10 to alleviate traffic congestion on Beach Road. Photo by Ash Daniel

“It’s pretty much a mass exodus,” said Jesse Smith, the county’s transportation director.

While congestion-related complaints only increased as new homes were built in The Highlands and other neighborhoods south of Route 10, those county residents had little choice but to use Beach Road to access major highways.

After discussing alternatives for many years, in 2012 county leaders formally adopted a proposal to relieve vehicle traffic on Beach Road by including in Chesterfield’s thoroughfare plan a one-mile extension of Nash Road to Route 10.

Now Smith and Transportation Department staff are working through multiple road alignments – and hoping to acquire the final piece of state funding – so they can begin construction by 2021.

They’re holding a community meeting about the Nash Road extension May 21 to give citizens a chance to learn more about the $19 million project and advise county officials about where they think the new two-lane road should intersect with Route 10.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the multipurpose room on the first floor of the county’s community development building.

“We will weigh that input pretty heavily,” Smith said. “We’re certainly not going to build some project that nobody wants.”

Dale District Supervisor Jim Holland has advocated for the project, noting it will benefit both his constituents and residents of the Matoaca District.

“It will significantly enhance traffic flow in this area – the heart of Chesterfield,” he said.

According to Chessa Faulkner, a senior engineer for the county’s Transportation Department, staff conducted a study last year to determine whether they could relieve congestion by widening a stretch of Beach Road instead of building the Nash Road extension.

What they found was that would only get cars to the intersection more quickly. It wouldn’t mitigate traffic without creating additional travel lanes at the intersection.

“It was cost prohibitive and didn’t fix the problem,” she said.

The county currently has amassed $9.7 million for the project. It plans to apply for the remainder of the necessary funding in August through the state’s Smart Scale transportation program.

Most of the land that will be bisected by the Nash Road extension is undeveloped and zoned agricultural, but there are still challenges associated with the project.

Residents of the Deerfield Estates subdivision already have contacted transportation staff and expressed concern about the new road being located near their homes.

The county will also have to acquire at least one, and possibly as many as three residential properties at the intersection of Nash and Beach roads.

Faulkner said the county has sent multiple letters to the house that sits directly in the path of the Nash Road extension, but had not received a response from the owner as of last Thursday.

She has spoken to the owners of properties on both sides of that home and “they’re not happy.”

“Every time we have to displace a property owner it’s not a great situation,” Smith added. “You try to minimize the impact the best you can.” 

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