Letter – Fear traffic,  not schools

Published 8:14 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Proponents of a new $70 million Westside Elementary School rightly say there will be an influx of 1,000 new students over the build-out period of the 11 present approved developments like Benns Grant, The Crossings, Mallory Scott and The Grange. What they do not account for is that half or more of those new students will have graduated by the end of their developments’ build-out.  

In other words, the increase is 500 or less, not 1,000, and within the capacity of the school system to accommodate. (And, by the way, in accord with Weldon Cooper’s 500.) 

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By explanation, 13 years hence all K-12 students from the active developments who have entered the school system this year will have graduated.  Likewise, grades 1-12 students entering the second year hence will have graduated. Likewise grades 2-12 students entering the third year hence will have graduated, etc. By the 13th year hence half of students entering the system will have graduated.    

The problem with the projects like Benn’s Grant (240 units), Mallory Scott (812 units), the Grange (267), The Promontory (262), Sweetgrass (615) and Gwaltney Farms (301) is not schools but overwhelming traffic. Their approvals TOGETHER duplicate the 2007 Armada Hoffler Benn’s Grant application. Instead of concentration of development at Benns Church, comparable residents and retail are scattered just a few miles along Route 10. At present peak p.m. traffic rates, 2007 Benn’s Grant future development volumes would approach 60,000 vehicles per day on Brewers Neck and the Smithfield part of Benns Church Boulevard.  The Mallory Scott (812) approval saturates the only alternative route to Route 17.  

We should be looking at financing (forget VDOT) with some of the $70 million school money a fifth lane from the James River Bridge to the Crossings to Benns Church to Smithfield and not wasting money on an unnecessary Westside Elementary School. Then we can accommodate all these new developments and citizens and developers can enjoy major new prosperity.  


Thomas Finderson