The Virginia Department of Transportation has broken ground on a $300 million project to widen 7.4 miles of Route 58 in Patrick County over Lovers Leap Mountain. The groundbreaking is the next phase of a larger project to create a continuous four-lane highway between Virginia Beach and Interstate 77.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held at Fred Clifton Park in Meadows of Dan at an overlook near Route 58.
“Route 58 is a vital road for locals, tourists, and commercial traffic, connecting southern Virginia from the beach to the mountains,” said Governor 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. It was enacted by the Virginia General Assembly in 1989 to enhance economic growth potential and 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,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “This project represents a continuation of a multi-decade investment in the people and communities of Rural and Southwest Virginia.”
The project will address the safety challenges caused by the steep angles and winding curves that drivers encounter on Lovers Leap Mountain. This two-lane section of Route 58 currently is restricted to tractor trailers. This restriction will be removed once the improvements are completed.
The widening of Route 58 is being completed under an agreement between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Branch Civil Inc. The agreement is 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.”
The project starts a quarter mile west of the Poor Farmers Farm store in Vesta and continues 7.4 miles eastward. The work on the expansion will end when it connects to the existing four-lane section of the Route 58 Stuart Bypass.
The construction on Route 58 will include widening the road to four lanes, improving alignments and grades, expanding the shoulders, adding turn lanes at all secondary road connections, and enhancing the Lovers Leap Overlook. In addition, brake check areas and escape ramps for trucks will be added.
The mountainous terrain and amount of excavation required make this project a significant amount of work. More than 10 million cubic yards of soil and rock on Lovers Leap Mountain will need to be excavated at elevations that range between 1,300 and 3,000 feet.
There are two additional projects to widen Route 58 between Virginia Beach and I-77. These include projects at Vesta (four miles) and Crooked Oak (7.2 miles).