MEADOWS OF DAN, Va. (WFXR) — On Wednesday morning, Gov. Ralph Northam broke ground on a $300 million project — which will widen 7.4 miles of Route 58 in Patrick County over Lovers Leap Mountain — as part of a larger project to create a continuous four-lane highway between Virginia Beach and I-77.
According to officials, the groundbreaking ceremony was held on Wednesday, Sept. 29 at an overlook near Route 58 at Fred Clifton Park in Meadows of Dan.
“Route 58 is a vital road for locals, tourists, and commercial traffic, connecting southern Virginia from the beach to the mountains,” said Northam. “By widening this key section, the project will open up this part of Southwest Virginia to faster, safer travel and more economic investment.”
This project is a part of the U.S. Route 58 Corridor Development Program, which was enacted by the Virginia General Assembly in 1989 to enhance economic growth potential, as well as provide an adequate, modern, safe, and efficient highway system along Virginia’s southern boundary.
“Every year, thousands of commuters, travelers, and truckers take Route 58 as they travel along our Commonwealth’s southern border,” Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said. “This project represents a continuation of a multi-decade investment in the people and communities of Rural and Southwest Virginia.”
According to the governor’s office, the project will address the safety challenges caused by the steep angles and winding curves on Lovers Leap Mountain. In addition, once the improvements are completed, this two-lane section of Route 58 will no longer be restricted to tractor-trailers.
The widening of Route 58 is being conducted under an agreement between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Branch Civil Inc. and in accordance with the Public-Private Transportation Act, which allows private entities to propose innovative solutions for designing, constructing, and financing transportation projects.
“Once the General Assembly prioritized funding for the project, the Virginia Department of Transportation and our partner Branch Civil used an innovative progressive design-build approach to refine the design and advance the project to construction,” said Commissioner of Highways Stephen Brich. “This was the first time this contracting style was used in Virginia and supported a new level of engagement between the Virginia Department of Transportation and our contracting partner.”
Officials say the project starts about a quarter of a mile west of the Poor Farmers Farm store in Vesta and continues 7.4 miles eastward until it connects to the existing four-lane section of the Route 58 Stuart bypass.
Not only will the construction project widen the road to four lanes on Route 58, but it will also improve alignments and grades, expand the shoulders, add turn lanes at all secondary road connections, enhance the Lovers Leap Overlook, and add brake check areas and escape ramps for trucks.
However, more than 10 million cubic yards of soil and rock on Lovers Leap Mountain will need to be excavated from the mountainous terrain at elevations that range between 1,300 and 3,000 feet in order to complete this project.
“Since representing Patrick County in the House of Delegates, I have fought hard for the widening of Route 58 from Stuart to Interstate 77, prioritizing through Lovers Leap, by successfully introducing legislation to widen Route 58,” Del. Charles Poindexter said. “Since all the construction and environmental studies have now concluded, construction for this much needed project can now begin. I am excited for Patrick County, our region, and the expanded opportunities for the enhanced movement of imports and exports through the Port of Virginia.”
The governor’s office says there are two additional projects to widen Route 58 between Virginia Beach and I-77, including four miles in Vesta and 7.2 miles in Crooked Oak.
You can learn more about the Route 58 project in Patrick County by clicking here.