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November 14, 2014

Update on Laskin Road utillity work at the Oceanfront

UtilityWorkAhead

VIRGINIA BEACH

A project that is laying the groundwork for the removal of the feeder lanes on Laskin Road will continue through 2015.

Workers are relocating utilities along the corridor from Republic Road to Oriole Drive and along First Colonial Road from Republic Road to Interstate 264. The $4.3 million project began in April.

Funding for widening Laskin Road is still up in the air.

The Virginia Department of Transportation was set to allocate $5 million this fiscal year, but has been waiting for the nod from the Commonwealth Transportation Board, said Laurie Simmons, a VDOT spokeswoman. The board, appointed by the governor, decides annually which VDOT projects are funded.

The $55 million Laskin Road widening project is designed to increase capacity and includes eliminating the feeder lanes on each side of the artery to the Oceanfront. The current pattern confounds drivers: two-way traffic moves on feeder lanes, which are adjacent to the main travel lanes. Maneuvering between the various lanes can be perilous.

Plans call for an eight-lane divided highway, plus a bicycle path and sidewalk, from Republic Road to Winwood Drive, and a six-lane divided highway from Winwood Drive to South Oriole Road.

Future light rail or other rapid-transit plans for eastern Virginia Beach could affect Laskin Road. One of the proposals would extend light-rail from Newtown Road to the Oceanfront on a 13.5-mile route through the Hilltop area. City leaders are reviewing alternatives with an eye on Laskin Road’s future.

“This project is also using local money, so the city of Virginia Beach also has the power to decide which projects to prioritize and fund,” Simmons said.

The city’s not planning to hold back the long-awaited changes, and transportation officials are anxiously awaiting word from VDOT. If state funding becomes available next year, widening measures could start as early as 2016, said William Haggerty of Virginia Beach’s Department of Public Works.

Meanwhile, private utility companies are continuing to relocate equipment, signaling the feeder roads are one step closer to the chopping block.

“VDOT is continuing to progress the project,” Haggerty said.

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