Letter – Route 17 is maxed out

Published 12:13 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

We should change the Comprehensive Plan designation along the Route 17 corridor to allow no

more than one unit for parcels that have not already been rezoned because of our heavy peak p.m. traffic situation. 

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From the Sugar Hill traffic light fiasco, we learned that the Virginia Department of Transportation is not going to give us a traffic light, or reduce speed limits, or six-lane Carrollton Boulevard, and it is not possible to bypass the Carrollton Boulevard corridor as we are in a corner up against the James River Bridge.

University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center population projections indicate Route 17 traffic will increase 26% to 45% over the next 20 to 30 years. Even small new residential developments and especially new shopping areas along Carrollton will bring much more traffic.

If we could bypass Carrollton Boulevard like South Church Street and old Smithfield were bypassed by the Smithfield bypass, then continuing Carrollton Boulevard development would be reasonable, but we can’t. We must abandon conventional planning and zoning and push new development back to Brewers Neck and Benn’s Grant, allowing the Carrollton Boulevard corridor to be less congested and more open.

Failure to be reasonable when confronted with special circumstances means heavier congestion, more accidents and inevitably gridlock and declining quality of life. The Carrollton Boulevard area is a wonderful place to live except weekdays 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.-ish. A generation from now, when Carrollton Boulevard is six lanes, we can return to fully developing it, but it is no longer reasonable now.

At the same time Route 17 has several population clusters that cannot safely turn left onto Route 17 in heavy peak p.m. traffic due to the lack of a traffic light. We should work to connect Sugar Hill/Founders Pointe and Carrollton Manor to the Cedar Grove light via Brogan Lane and Cannon Acres. In the future all approved Newport Service District developments should have traffic light access, especially large developments like St. Luke Village and the future Yeoman Farm development when it’s rezoned. 

As they merge, Smithfield/Carrollton will be as large as Petersburg.


Thomas Finderson