Letter – Mercury-like congestion

Published 6:19 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Rapid development is quickly creating an urban-like Mercury Boulevard on Route 17 in Carrollton and Benns Church (Route 10) here in Isle of Wight County. The Virginia Department of Transportation’s six-year improvement plan (SYIP) to address the resulting congestion on our region’s portions of these major highways is woefully inadequate.

As reported in the May 15th Smithfield Times (“Turner roundabout in VDOT plan”), VDOT lists ITTF notification system as its second action, which follows the first action, a study of assets to navigate the traffic via information signs and vehicle detection improvements. The third phase is similar to the second to install (ITTF) devices on Interstates 64 and 664. The last action in this six-year plan is to potentially widen southbound Route 17 from the James River Bridge to the Smith Neck Road intersection.

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The third lane proposed from the James River Bridge to Smiths Neck Road in 2033 is considered in the last phase of the Hampton Roads SYIP. This stretch of road should not wait 10 more years to mitigate the current congestion. Third-lane widening of Carrollton Boulevard should be the first priority and started as soon as possible. Due to rapid development, traffic is growing very quickly. It is quite reasonable to see that the congestion will become unmanageable in two to three years.

Secondly, the third-lane widening should continue to the Brewers Neck intersection (Hwy 258/32 connection). A large number of drivers diverge at that intersection to go to Route 10/Benns Church. Remaining traffic continues along 17 to Suffolk. Any accident on Route 17, or I-664, brings all traffic in these areas to a complete and long-lasting stop.

What happens on Carrollton Boulevard affects Isle of Wight County, Suffolk, Surry County and many more surrounding communities. Please, I implore you – citizens, local councils, county boards and state representatives of our district – press VDOT to give our region a better traffic solution. Whatever sway you have representing Isle of Wight County and the Hampton Roads region, use it to urge VDOT to start the third southbound lane of Route 17 now.

The Route 17 congestion is dire. VDOT’s slow response is unacceptable. Rationally, and respectfully, expedite the widening of Route 17 from the James River Bridge.


Charles Bryan

Planning Commission