Skip to main content

Is Interstate 73 dead in Virginia?

Maybe ....Maybe Not...It really depends on who you talk to.

Earlier this week, Ronald “Skip” Ressel Jr., who is the president of the I-73 Committee in Martinsville and Henry County, claimed that the I-73 project was over.  In a story from the Martinsville Bulletin, Ressel told the Henry County Board of Commissioners that I-73 no longer has plans to run through Henry County.  He told the commissioners that "the time has come to give up on this dream." 

But is it?

In the same article, Mr. Ressel mentions that a new corridor similar to I-73 could be built by and maintained by the state.  Well, no matter what type of road that is built along the I-73 corridor, it would be built and maintained by the state.  (Unless it is a private toll road - totally different subject).  Mr. Ressel also alludes to the $8.5 million reserved for the I-73 corridor and not having it go to waste.  Indeed, there has been about $12.5 million set aside from congressional earmarks for I-73 that hasn't been spent.  Specifically, $6 million for construction and another $4 million for preliminary engineering.   The Commonwealth of Virginia also contributed 25 percent or $2.5 million as part of their required match.  I'm guessing Mr. Russel's $8.5 million is a combination of the $6 million for construction and the $2.5 Commonwealth contribution. 

Now, I haven't been able to blog as much as I used to, but the driving force behind I-73 in Martinsville and Henry County has been economic development and a business park known as the Patriot Centre.  The Patriot Centre was the impetus for the "Henry County Alternative" which shifted the approved routing of I-73 to the west and closer to Martinsville. 

Countering Mr. Ressel's I-73 white flag is Virginia Senator Bill Stanley who wrote a letter to the Martinsville Bulletin to stress that the goal of building and completing Interstate 73 from Roanoke south to the NC line is still a reality.  He noted that there is a September deadline to determine how to spend the nearly one decade old earmarks.  He mentions that part of the reason the funds have not been used is requirement by the US Army Corps of Engineers to study US 220 alternatives.  He also mentioned how there is efforts in the Virginia Legislature to continue to study and fund Interstate 73 within the state. Senator Stanley did say that if the money can't be used for I-73 right away, it can be used for safety and other improvements along US 220 - which I-73 will roughly parallel to the east.

So depending on who you talk to I-73 is dead or trying to age like a fine wine.  For Mr. Ressel, any construction on the highway is progress desperately needed and the September deadline and no other money dedicated means well it's done.  To Senator Stanley, this is a small bump in the road while the overall plan and funding mechanisms come together.  It's a little bit of both - Interstate 73 in Virginia isn't going to see any activity for most likely the next decade (or longer) but the door isn't closed.  It may be to the interests of Mr. Ressel and the Henry County Board of Commissioners but to others they are working on a Plan B. 

Mr. Ressel hinted that another corridor - possibly following a different route - could be built.  In other words, he just wants something anything built.  But $8.5 million won't really build anything.  I am sure if Henry County had their way - they'd at a minimum have a spur running north from the eastern end of the US 58 freeway to the exit that would connect to the Patriot Centre.  Or another possibility would be to build the 73 corridor south towards Route 87 and Ridgeway and eventually connecting to US 220 at the North Carolina State Line.  However, the $8.5 million will not build much.  If there is any approval from the Army Corps of Engineers - the money could go to a small grading contract but even that small sign of progress will not be enough for those in South Central Virginia eagerly awaiting this highway.

Story Links:
County supervisors told I-73 project appears to be over - Martinsville Bulletin
Virginia Senator: I-73 effort alive in region - Martinsville Bulletin

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sunshine Bridge (Donaldsonville, LA)

Located about halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans in southern Louisiana, the Sunshine Bridge spans the lower Mississippi River near the city of Donaldsonville as part of the longer Louisiana Highway 70 corridor, which connects Interstate 10 and Airline Highway (US 61) with US 90 in Morgan City. In the years following World War II, the only bridges across the lower Mississippi River in Louisiana were located in the area of the state’s two largest cities – Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Postwar agricultural and industrial development along the river in this region led to the planning of a series of infrastructure projects in southern Louisiana that were aimed at spurring this development and modernization of the Delta region. One of these projects was known as the Acadian Thruway and was developed in the 1950s as a toll road intended to connect greater New Orleans with Lafayette and points west while providing a high-speed bypass of the Baton Rouge metro area. The Thruway, which

Old River Lock & Control Structure (Lettsworth, LA)

  The Old River Control Structure (ORCS) and its connecting satellite facilities combine to form one of the most impressive flood control complexes in North America. Located along the west bank of the Mississippi River near the confluence with the Red River and Atchafalaya River nearby, this structure system was fundamentally made possible by the Flood Control Act of 1928 that was passed by the United States Congress in the aftermath of the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927 however a second, less obvious motivation influenced the construction here. The Mississippi River’s channel has gradually elongated and meandered in the area over the centuries, creating new oxbows and sandbars that made navigation of the river challenging and time-consuming through the steamboat era of the 1800s. This treacherous area of the river known as “Turnbull’s Bend” was where the mouth of the Red River was located that the upriver end of the bend and the Atchafalaya River, then effectively an outflow

Huey P. Long Bridge (Baton Rouge, LA)

The decade of the 1930s brought unprecedented growth and development to Louisiana’s transportation infrastructure as the cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge cemented their place as leading urban centers on the Gulf Coast. In the immediate aftermath of the success garnered by the construction of the massive bridge on the Mississippi River near New Orleans in 1935, planning and construction commenced on the state’s second bridge over the great river. This new bridge, located on the north side of Baton Rouge, was to be similar in design and form to its downriver predecessor. Completed in 1940 as the second bridge across the Mississippi River in Louisiana and the first to be built in the Baton Rouge area, this bridge is one of two bridges on the Mississippi named for Huey P. Long, a Louisiana politician who served as the 40th Governor of the State from 1928 to 1932, then as U.S. Senator from 1932 until his death by assassination at the state capitol in Baton Rouge on September 10, 1935