IW’s most congested road

Published 2:23 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Benn’s Church Boulevard in Smithfield is worse than the JRB

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Commuters easily point to the James River Bridge as a major choke-point in Isle of Wight County, but in the last year or so, the amount of weekday traffic traveling along Benn’s Church Boulevard around Farm Fresh in Smithfield has exceeded the number of vehicles on the JRB.

Last year, the average number of vehicles crossing the JRB during the week was 30,000, but the portion of Benn’s Church Boulevard between South Church Street and Canteberry Lane was tallied at 31,000, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

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Those numbers represent the annual average weekday traffic, which is the number of vehicles estimated to have traveled the segment of road during a 24-hour weekday over the year, according to VDOT. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Both the JRB and Benn’s Church Boulevard were ranked as severely congested, with Benn’s Church Boulevard being severe in both the morning and evening, and the JRB in the evening, according to the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization. 

Also listed as moderately to severely congested by the HRTPO is South Church Street from Main Street to the Route 10 bypass. That section of roadway could be further impacted when VDOT closes, or partially closes, Cypress Creek Bridge for repairs as soon as 2018.

When it comes to roads projects, Isle of Wight County or the HRTPO is responsible for submitting projects under the new Smart Scale (House Bill 2) process, said VDOT spokesperson Tiffany Whitfield.

One of the areas along Benn’s Church Boulevard where congestion is most evident during the week is in the morning at the intersection of Turner Drive. In order to maximize the light at the intersection, vehicles headed to Smithfield High School stack up in the Sherwin-Williams parking lot, said Smithfield Police Chief Steve Bowman.

Sometimes it’s 20 deep, he said.

Other than that, the only other time traffic gets noticeably backed up in town is around 4 p.m. west bound along the bypass near the intersection of Route 10 and Main Street, Bowman said.

Isle of Wight County is planning to add a turn lane at Turner Drive and extend the stacking lane coming from Carrollton, said Isle of Wight Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson.

The plan is to alleviate traffic congestion and clean up the intersection overall, he said, adding that the high school traffic wasn’t necessarily a trigger for the project. 

Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams was surprised that there was that much weekday traffic along Benn’s Church Boulevard in town.

He said the town hasn’t had any complaints, other than requests to synchronize the traffic signals along the roadway.

“There’s a lot of people coming through Smithfield. That’s a good thing. I hope they stop and buy something,” Williams said.  {/mprestriction}