Benn’s Church intersection stumps motorists

Published 12:29 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2016

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

To get to Newport News, Burnadette Owens has to drive the length of the new access road behind Benn’s Church, make a U-turn and then turn right onto Brewer’s Neck Boulevard.

She lives in Queen Anne’s Court and, prior to construction of the new Benn’s Church intersection, she simply made a left turn out of her neighborhood.

Other drivers, especially those not from the area, seem confused when they approach the intersection, as it has not been changed on the GPS system yet, said other residents.

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Owens often watches those motorists drive back and forth several times before they figure it out.

“I see vehicles pass by and pass by,” she said.{mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

It’s all due to the new traffic pattern at the soon-to-be-completed Benn’s Church intersection.

Owen’s particular problem is temporary. Once the intersection is completed, Queen Anne’s Court residents will be able to once again turn left at the new stoplight, said Isle of Wight County Project Manager Jamie Oliver.

U-turns are also being made at other points around the new intersection as motorists try to reach their destination.

At one point, parishioners at Benn’s United Methodist Church had to drive past the church on Route 10, make a U-turn near the old Jordan house and return to gain access to its parking lot.

That issue was resolved and a permanent entrance will be part of the new intersection.

Isle of Wight is also encouraging people to consider using the Nike Park Road to Smith’s Neck Road route to get to the James River Bridge instead of making multiple U-turns, Oliver said.

And a lot of motorists are taking the county’s adviced. The daily rush hour backups on those roads have increased in recent weeks.

The intersection improvements are expected to wind up in the next 30-60 days, Oliver said.

Despite the temporary hassle, Owens is pleased with the new stoplight at the entrance of her neighborhood. Before, residents of Queen Anne’s Court were at the mercy of traffic when it came to getting on Brewer’s Neck Boulevard.

“I like the traffic light,” she said.

The Benn’s Church intersection was long considered failing, and as development heated up in the area, fixing the intersection became a priority. The cost was estimated at $5 million.

To jumpstart the project, the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors agreed three years ago to front the funds needed for the intersection improvements, with half eventually being reimbursed with VDOT revenue sharing funds. The county plans to recoup its $2.5 million investment through proffers from the developers and landowners of Benn’s Grant, St. Luke’s Village and Riverside.  {/mprestriction}