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IW looks to revive Route 620 project

Isle of Wight County still has hopes of one day repaving a 1.7-mile stretch of Broadwater Road.

The road, also known as Route 620, spans from just outside Smithfield to the Isle of Wight-Southampton County border near the town of Ivor.

The Virginia Department of Transportation had administered two road resurfacing projects from 2000 through 2012 at an average cost of about $2 million per mile. The final segment in need of resurfacing, which is proposed to be county-administered, spans from the road’s intersection with Strawberry Plains Road to the county line.

As of 2014, VDOT had estimated the cost of repaving the final stretch of road at around $4.4 million. Isle of Wight received a 50/50 revenue sharing grant for $4 million in 2016 for the project.

But by 2017, VDOT’s cost estimate had gone up to $7.8 million, taking into account the cost of major utility relocations and a realignment of part of the road to allow motorists to better maintain their speed where the road curves. That same year, county officials learned the local cost of funding its portion of a bicycle and pedestrian trail from Carrollton to Smithfield had come in roughly $2 million over budget, and reallocated funds from the 620 project to cover the overage.

In 2018, Isle of Wight attempted to revive the 620 project by applying for SmartScale, a VDOT tool that helps allocate state funding for road projects based on their cost to benefit ratio. The rural road repair didn’t score well. It was ranked 52nd out of 54 projects in the Hampton Roads District and 403 out of 433 projects statewide.

The road doesn’t carry a high traffic volume nor a significant amount of regional traffic, Oliver said.

VDOT is now projecting a cost of $11 million for the same amount of work in 2021. According to Jamie Oliver, Isle of Wight’s director of transportation, a scaled-down version of the VDOT plan without the road realignment would cost about $8 million. This would still allow for standard 12-foot-wide traffic lanes, possibly decreasing to 10 feet in some areas, and 3-foot shoulders instead of 6-foot ones.

Another option is to reduce the scope of the project from 1.7 miles down to 1- to 1.25 miles.

“When you look at your crash data, you have a very specific corridor right in the middle where the majority of your crashes happen; you would focus there,” Oliver said.

The reduced-scope option would carry an estimated cost of $4.8 million.

“It doesn’t take much to go off the road, particularly an inexperienced driver,” said Windsor District Supervisor Joel Acree.

All cost estimates assume there are utilities that would need to be relocated.

“We have mapped the utilities but we have not actually gone out there and sub-surface confirmed them … so if we do additional utility investigation that could reduce our cost,” Oliver said.

Doing the utility investigation would cost the county about $4,000 to $6,000. Meeting with VDOT to discuss design waivers for the reduced-scope options would cost another $3,000 to $5,000. And it would take an additional $12,000 to $40,000 to develop plans far enough along to obtain a more accurate project cost estimate. But a reduction in the number of utilities needing to be relocated could cut the project’s overall cost by upwards of half a million dollars, Oliver said.

Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors agreed by consensus to allow county staff to proceed with the costs needed to obtain a more accurate estimate of the project’s current price. No formal vote was taken.