The Accomack County Board of Supervisors authorized the staff to pursue two VDOT Smart Scale applications for improvements to Rt. 175 or the road from Rt. 13 to Chincoteague. Earlier this month, the Accomack County Planning Commission voted to recommend a 4-lane split roadway with a 118 ft. right of way. The proposed improvements will begin at the intersection of Rt 13 and Rt 175 in Oak Hall and extend to the Atlantic Road Intersection.
Two proposals were presented to the Board. The first is a 4 lane road which was approved by the Planning Commission. The second proposal is mainly a 3 lane road. A long discussion ensued.
Supervisor Ron Wolff made the case for the four lane road saying that in other areas with highways that lead to a vacation destination, there is always a four lane divided highway leading to the resort. Wolff said that after several years, the four lane expansion of Rt. 113 leading to Ocean City is nearly complete. He also pointed out that anticipated growth of activities around Wallops could also lead to more traffic.
Chris Isdell of VDOT told the Board that these projects are strictly graded by VDOT. He said that there is a finite amount of money available state wide for road improvements and the grading system helps determine which will get funding. When asked his opinion on the strength of the case for a four lane road, Isdell said that traffic counts and other criteria reveal that a three lane road will be able to handle current and future traffic on Rt. 175. Isdell said that in his opinion, the three lane road would have a much better chance of being funded. Isdell said that the county could apply for both projects and could make its case for the larger road with supporting documentation. Isdell said that if the County filed only one application for the larger road and it was turned down, it couldn’t apply again for the 3 lane road for another two years. Isdell said that under the best conditions it will be 6 until 8 years before the project is complete.
The Board then voted unanimously to apply for both the three and four lane road improvements.