CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County may soon move forward with plans to extend Powhite Parkway between Route 288 and Hull Street Road, a project that’s been in the works for decades.
The county Board of Supervisors voted at their meeting on April 27 to pass a resolution in support of the much-anticipated expansion.
The project will ultimately require a mixture of local, state and federal funds to complete, but the resolution passed last week focused on a federal infrastructure bill that could jump-start the process.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill was signed into law last November, but much of the funding is still being designated for local projects.
“We ballparked that at around $15 million in terms of engineering and some property acquisition,” said Jesse Smith, Deputy County Administrator “This is really the first step in what will likely be a very long process.”
Smith predicted that based on past construction costs for the completion of Route 288, the project would likely be somewhere “in the $700 million range.”
That would be a massive undertaking for the county, but there are several funding sources available. In addition to state and federal money, the county could issue bonds or fund the extensions through tolls.
There’s currently a 75-cent toll on Powhite Parkway being used to pay down earlier construction costs.
“The primary debt on that is scheduled to be paid off somewhere around 2027 or 2028 according to VDOT,” Smith said. “But one of the things that we could look at doing is allowing that toll to remain in part to finance an extension of the Powhite Parkway.”
That would require an act of the General Assembly, and would likely mean tolls on the roadway for years to come.
“The funding of that plan is going to be many layers, I think, before it’s all said and done,” said Board Chair Christopher Winslow.
Picking a Path
One of the biggest questions for residents of the area North and West of Swift Creek Reservoir is where, exactly, the road will go in.
Smith told the board their intended path was largely finalized already, and that it has been in the works since 1989.
While the county currently owns about 70% of the right of way needed to complete the project, public opposition to the proposed route has centered around its potential impact on the Swift Creek Berry Farm.
A Change.Org petition calling on residents to “#SaveSwiftCreekBerryFarm” garnered thousands of signatures ahead of a community meeting on Upper Magnolia Green, a proposed industrial mega-site that would be bisected by the Powhite extension.
“This alignment was picked using aerial photography to in particular miss the existing structures on the site – the residential structures,” Smith said. “It certainly could impact some of the farm there, but it was picked so that we would not be relocating residents.”
While the county has not yet secured funding to begin the extension, the county planning commission recently approved plans for the Magnolia Green project, which will rely heavily on the Powhite Parkway extension to connect it to the greater Richmond area.