By SHANNON WATKINS
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will hold a location public hearing on Wednesday, May 8 to review the environmental study for the replacement and relocation of the current at-grade intersection of the U.S. 460 Bypass and Southgate Drive into the Virginia Tech campus.
This hearing is being held to provide an opportunity for citizens or organizations to give VDOT input on the proposed project. The hearing will be held in an open-house format with no formal presentation given. VDOT representatives will be present to discuss the proposed project and to answer questions.
The project proposes to move the current at-grade intersection of Southgate Drive and U.S. 460 Bypass further east and remake it into a grade-separated interchange, and includes the relocation of a section of Southgate Drive to connect to the new interchange.
According to local VDOT project manager Phil Hammack, who is handling the design, “It’ll make getting around easier, because it’ll be four-directional. It takes left turns out of the signal cycle.”
Hammack said VDOT’s manager for environmental concerns about the project is Patrick Hughes, based out of Richmond.
The project will not affect Stadium Woods, a long-contested piece of property on the Virginia Tech campus, although it was originally slated to run through a stand of old trees.
“They relocated it,” said John Seiler, a professor in Tech’s Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation department, noting that the university worked to make sure no trees would be affected by the change.
“It’s going to be a beautiful entrance to campus,” said Seiler. “It’s going to be grand.”
In regards to the meeting, Hammack said, “If people have a question, hopefully they’ll show up. We’re hoping for a decent turnout.”
Comments about the proposed project may be submitted at the hearing or until May 18 by mailing them to Patrick Hughes, Project Manager, Virginia Department of Transportation, 1401 East Broad St., Richmond, VA 23219 or emailed to Patrick.Hughes@vdot.virginia.gov. Please reference “US 460 Bypass Interchange and Southgate Drive Relocation Public Comment” in the subject heading. The Environmental Assessment is available on the project website at: http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/salem/southgate_connector_-_blacksburg.asp
The hearing will be held on Wednesday, May 8, from 5-7 p.m. at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center, 901 Prices Fork Road in Blacksburg. Anyone requiring special assistance to attend and participate in this hearing may contact VDOT at 540-387-5353, 800-367-7623 or TTY/TDD 711.