2018-01-24 / Real Estate

County begins Lucks Lane expansion work


Construction recently began to widen a 1.26-mile stretch of Lucks Lane to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce accidents. 
JAMES HASKINS Construction recently began to widen a 1.26-mile stretch of Lucks Lane to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce accidents. JAMES HASKINS When state Route 288’s northern extension finally opened in 2004, it was celebrated as a major achievement – connecting western Chesterfield and western Henrico, and creating a beltway of sorts around Richmond.

But on residential-heavy Lucks Lane, which connects Courthouse Road with 288, something else happened: Traffic increased dramatically, and so did the accidents. Fourteen years later, Chesterfield is working to address the problem.

Construction has begun on a $12.4 million project to widen a 1.26-mile stretch of Lucks Lane and more efficiently manage traffic flow to and from several residential communities located along the corridor.

County officials held a meeting last week at the North Courthouse Road Library to brief citizens on the project, which is expected to take about two years to complete. When it’s finished, that section of Lucks Lane will be transformed into a four-lane divided highway with sidewalks and bike lanes. Jesse Smith, director of the county’s Transportation Department, said widening the section of Lucks Lane has been a priority because of vehicle accident data and its struggle to accommodate traffic volume as a two-lane road.

Both have increased since the state extended Route 288 to I-64 and built the interchange at Lucks Lane, which currently is used by more than 13,000 vehicles per day. That number is projected to jump to 21,700 by 2038. Many motorists take Lucks Lane from Courthouse to get to 288, in order to avoid the tolls on the Powhite Parkway extension, which is a half mile south.

“People who drive it every day see the need for these improvements,” Smith said.

Some residents have questioned why the county took so long to get started.

The Board of Supervisors authorized staff to proceed with widening two separate stretches of Lucks Lane in 2012 and 2013. It took several years to obtain funding through the state’s Revenue Sharing program, relocate utilities and acquire right of way from more than 50 adjacent property owners.

Because it serves such a densely populated area, Smith acknowledged widening Lucks Lane is “one of the more challenging projects we’ve done.”

“Those are always going to be difficult discussions when we’re coming right up to property lines,” he added. “We’ve tried to make people as happy as possible.”

Last November, the county signed a construction contract with Fielder’s Choice Enterprises Inc., which was the lowest responsive bidder. Its bid was about 5 percent higher than an engineer’s estimate, but with construction costs rising across the country, staff concluded it would be unlikely to attract a lower bid if it re-advertised the project.

In addition to creating a divided four-lane highway, the project also includes construction of a much-needed traffic signal at the intersection of Walton Bluff Parkway and Water Willow Drive with Lucks Lane, bicycle and pedestrian accommodations and improvements to right and left turn lanes into residential subdivisions along Lucks Lane.

Work will be performed in five stages. Traffic will be shifted and re-routed several times by the project’s expected completion date in early 2020.

Chesterfield resident Miriam Ford, one of many citizens who advocated for passage of the county’s Bikeways and Trails Plan in 2015, noted with satisfaction that the Lucks Lane upgrades will include both sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

“This is going to address a lot of problems,” she said, adding that it is extremely dangerous for pedestrians to use Lucks Lane in its current state. “I feel great that the county is doing this. People who are buying houses here want to know where the sidewalks are.”

In response to that demand, the Board of Supervisors has allocated millions of dollars to sidewalk construction over the past few years. Staff also has encouraged developers of new residential projects to include pedestrian accommodations in their zoning cases.

Retrofitting existing neighborhoods with sidewalks or shared-use paths is far more expensive, Smith said, so the county is trying to complete infill projects gradually in conjunction with roadway improvements.

“We’re going to do it where we can,” he added, “and where it makes sense.” ¦

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