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U.S. 58 project moving forward

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By Staff Reports

LAUREL FORK — Vehicles will be driving on new sections of U.S. 58 in Carroll, Floyd and Patrick counties by the end of 2014.

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Branch Highways is entering its third season of construction on the widening 58 project in Laurel Fork, said Pete Copes, general superintendent of Branch Highways Inc., which is under contract with the Virginia Department of Transportation to widen the 8.2 mile section.

“We will be working in all three counties this season and expect to have traffic using the new westbound lane for the most part,” said Copes. “Traffic will be in both directions in the westbound lane,” he said.

“This project is challenging, and we are limited by the weather, but we have accomplished a great amount of work,” added Copes.

The project has involved 1 million yards of excavation; 8,000 tons of base stone for the roadway and 10,000 tons of asphalt.

All lower drainage features are completed, and more than half of the three major box culverts are finished.

“This project has a significant impact on the economy of the three counties,” Copes said. “When completed, this project will strengthen economic development and tourism while enhancing traffic safety for everyone in the region.”

At the peak of construction this season, Branch expects to have approximately 150 workers involved in all three counties, Copes said. “They are a dedicated team that enjoys working together.”

Branch has also increased the subcontracted work with Steve Martin’s Trenching of Martinsville and D.L. Harrell Construction from Meadows of Dan by adding 30 miles of underdrain.

The Laurel Fork project is the third phase of the U.S. 58 corridor improvement plan that is being implemented through a comprehensive agreement between VDOT and Branch to widen 36 miles from Hillsville to Stuart as state funding becomes available. The agreement falls under the Public Private Transportation Act (PPTA), which allows private companies to propose innovative solutions for design, construction, financing and operation of transportation improvements. “Lower overall cost and quicker project completion are among the benefits of PPTA,” a Branch news release said.

Over the winter, Branch completed work on a website, www.usroute58.com, to inform the public about the project. “We hope the residents in the area will visit the site periodically for updates on our construction progress,” said Copes.

Branch also has developed a presentation for community groups in the three counties. Anyone interested in having the presentation for their group meeting can call Melissa Sowers at (276) 398-2529.

“We are committed to keeping the public informed and involved about the project,” said Copes.

Construction of the U.S. 58 widening project is under the supervision of the Salem District of VDOT.

Branch completed the first segment of the project, a 3-mile Blue Ridge Parkway crossing at Meadows of Dan, in 2006.

The second segment, the 5.2-mile Hillsville bypass, was completed in 2011.

Phase 3 (Laurel Fork) consists of 8.2 miles of road improvements beginning just east of Big Reed Island Creek and tying into the previously completed four-lane section in Meadows of Dan.

Phase 3 “presents a unique set of challenges as there is both new roadway alignment as well as widening and resurfacing of the existing roadway,” according to Branch’s website. “As a result, various traffic switches will occur throughout the project, although we have planned diligently to minimize these for the traveling public.”

There are 14 secondary roads and 120 driveways that also must be taken into consideration, the company said. “We will be moving 1,793,000 cubic meters of earth, installing 16,000 meters of pipe and laying 80,000 metric tons of asphalt for this phase,” Branch said. “Tory Creek is also being rerouted to allow for the new four lanes.”

On the “Current Conditions” post on its website, as of June 27, Branch listed Route 813 as closed to through traffic, with local access only. It also reported periodic blasting.

Three more segments remain to complete the improvements and expand 58 from two to four lanes.

Twenty miles of improvements between Hillsville and Stuart are still to come in order for the project to be fully completed.

Utilities in the area will be relocated and all environmental permits and clearances will be obtained.

Branch’s website listed the future phases:

Crooked Oak Section

• Eight-mile stretch from the Hillsville Bypass to the Laurel Fork area

• Encompasses over mountain terrain from Freemont Road to east of Big Reed Island Creek

• Project includes two bridges

Vesta Section

• Twelve miles of roadway from Meadows of Dan to Stuart

• Extends west of Mabry Mill Road (to the north) and Dan River Road (to the south)

• Includes two bridges, with one over the Dan River

Lover’s Leap

• Easternmost section of the corridor, located in Stuart

• Extends over 7.8 miles of mountain and rock terrain

• Will ultimately provide separation from eastbound and westbound lanes, which provides safer travel for the public and any school traffic

• High elevation differences