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Route 99 upgrades in the works

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

With the cost of widening Route 99 growing faster than state funds are accumulating to complete the project, the town of Pulaski is looking at other improvements along the corridor.

Town Manager Shawn Utt said $3.85 million in urban allocation funds are available to make improvements on Route 99 (East Main Street) from the Bob White Boulevard intersection to Interstate 81.

Since the traffic signals at that intersection is the oldest one in town and needs replacing, consideration was given to eliminating the signals and installing a roundabout. However, Utt said that idea was rejected because of the cost.

VDOT presented Pulaski Town Council with three roundabout options: one without access to Pulaski Shopping Plaza, one with shopping center ingress only, and one with both ingress and egress (full access) to the shopping center.

According to James Henegar, senior transportation engineer with Virginia Department of Transportation’s Salem District, the full access option would cost $4 million, including preliminary engineering, right of way access and construction.

On the other hand, replacing the traffic signals would cost about $500,000 (including pedestrian signals), leaving the town with funds to make a number of other improvements. Utt said the current signals are obsolete, so it’s difficult to find parts to maintain them.

Other projects planned for the area include:

•Improving lighting by installing additional streetlights to the Interstate81 overpass.

•Installing New River Trail signs along the interstate.

•Performing maintenance (painting, sealing and any other structural needs) on the bridge over Peak Creek near the Dora Highway intersection, and

•Landscaping from Bob White to Xaloy, at the town limits and at the interstate.

Utt said he hopes to have the plans for the improvements finalized by this fall so the project can be bid in the spring. This would allow construction to take place during 2015.

A match of 1 to 2 percent is required for urban fund projects. The town is hoping to meet this requirement by doing some of the work in house.

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