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City of Danville, planning organization applying for money for road improvements

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City officials are seeking state money for several proposed road improvement projects in Danville, as well as one for a connector road at the Southern Virginia Mega Site at Berry Hill.

Danville is applying for Virginia Department of Transportation Smart Scale funding for four projects in the city, and the Danville Metropolitan Planning Organization is applying for another two projects.

The six projects include three on Riverside Drive entailing road improvements from Piney Forest Road to Audubon Drive, Audubon Drive to Arnett Boulevard and Arnett Boulevard to Main Street.

Other projects include improvements to Piney Forest Road, accommodations for pedestrians at Piedmont Drive and expansion of a connector road in the works for the Southern Virginia Mega Site at Berry Hill.

“The projects in Danville will improve roadway safety and improve pedestrian accessibility,” said Brian Dunevant, city engineer and assistant director of public works. “The Berry Hill project will add capacity to the connector road.”

The proposed road improvement projects in Danville result from studies performed, including one for Riverside done a few years ago, and recent studies for Piney Forest Road and Piedmont Drive, Dunevant said.

“All projects were seen as good projects for the community and it is thought that they should score well,” he said.

Proposed road improvements in the city — excluding the Berry Hill connector road expansion in southwestern Pittsylvania County — total about 3 miles, Dunevant said.

Two lanes of the connector road that will be located from the Danville Expressway to Va. 311 were previously funded through Smart Scale and are in development, he said.

“This new application will add additional lanes to that project,” Dunevant said.

The connector road would extend from the existing interchange at Oak Ridge Farms Road and the Danville Expressway west to tie in with Berry Hill Road.

Work on the project is expected to begin Sept. 13 and be complete June 30, 2025, said Joe Bonanno, senior planner with the West Piedmont Planning District Commission. It will be about 2.3 miles long, he said.

The project is meant to ease access from the 3,500-acre mega site to the Danville Expressway. Danville and Pittsylvania County officials hope to attract a major industry that would bring thousands of jobs to the site.

“This connector road will direct traffic from the mega park directly to the Danville Expressway, thereby keeping traffic off of local roads, such as Martinsville Highway,” Bonanno said. “The connector road will also minimize the distance traffic must travel from the mega park to the Danville Expressway by creating a more direct route between the two.”

The initial two-lane project is expected to cost about $33.5 million.

Once constructed, the connector road would be designated at Va. 311, with Berry Hill Road becoming a part of it, Bonanno said.

The Danville Metropolitan Planning Organization is staffed by the commission.

The commission engages in regional planning for transportation, economic development, grant writing, regional collaboration, for the West Piedmont Planning District, which includes the cities of Danville and Martinsville, the counties of Franklin, Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania, and the town of Rocky Mount.

The Danville Metropolitan Planning Organization conducts transportation planning activities for the city of Danville and adjacent portions of Pittsylvania County, in close collaboration with those localities.

The VDOT Smart Scale program distributes transportation funding based on evaluation of projects that determines how effectively they help Virginia achieve its transportation goals, Dunevant wrote in a letter to Danville City Council.

Each application is scored by VDOT based on criteria established for the region where the project would be located, Dunevant wrote.

“Based on scoring and available funding, projects are then recommended by the Commonwealth Transportation Board,” he said.

The board is expected to vote whether to award funding for the projects in June 2023.

“If funded, these projects would go into VDOT’s Six-Year Plan, meaning funding would become available to start design in the 2020s and construction after 2030,” Dunevant told the Danville Register & Bee.

Estimated costs of the projects are unknown and are being prepared by VDOT in Lynchburg, he said.

“We have not received all of the final estimates yet,” Dunevant said.

Applications for each project in Danville and at Berry Hill are requesting full funding, he said.

“There are no funds from Danville included in the applications,” Dunevant said.


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