Surry cancels Route 31 widening project

Published 1:47 pm Thursday, November 10, 2022

Surry County supervisors voted on Nov. 3 to cancel a road-widening project that, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation, has exceeded its budget.

VDOT had awarded Surry County $9.6 million in fiscal year 2019-20 for the purpose of adding 5-foot-wide asphalt shoulders on each side of Route 31 to accommodate bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

The project originally was to have spanned four miles from the edge of Surry’s town limits to the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. According to VDOT Williamsburg Residency Administrator Rossie Carroll, the increased cost of right-of-way acquisitions would have driven the project’s original scope to over $15 million, resulting in a $6 million deficit.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Reducing the scope to just the 1.1-mile stretch of Route 31 from Surry to Rocky Hock Road – where the majority of crashes have occurred – would allow the project to stay within the budgeted $9.6 million, Carroll said. But that would still require the county to contribute $700,000 in local money to fund the relocation of utilities.

The project had been funded during VDOT’s third round of Smart Scale, the state’s formula for evaluating the cost versus benefit of proposed road improvements.

“Any time you have to relocate utilities underground, it’s considered a ‘betterment,’ ” Carroll explained, noting “betterments” do not qualify for state funding under Smart Scale.

Had the supervisors opted to contribute the $700,000, the project would have remained in VDOT’s 2020 six-year improvements plan, resulting in construction beginning sometime between now and 2026.

Supervisor Robert Elliott, however, made a motion to cancel the project, citing the increased cost to local taxpayers. His motion passed unanimously.