The staff of the Independent-Messenger (I-M) saw a need in the community and stepped up to help straighten out what was thought to be a frustrating and even dangerous situation.
Monday night’s minor delays turned into major delays at the I-95 overpass and left unaware motorists sitting on I-95 unable to get off at Exit 11 onto U.S. 58.
Most motorists did not know that there is a series of “superload” moves to transport massive pieces of equipment, including generators and turbines, approximately 17 miles from Toll Brother’s Rail Yard located at 750 Industrial Parkway, in Greensville County to the construction site.
Several pieces of equipment will need to travel in the oncoming lane of traffic and at times take up the entire roadway including the shoulder during transport. Drivers should be prepared to use alternate routes, if necessary.
Traffic on U.S. 58, I-95 and Hwy. 301 have been impacted sometimes at length leaving residents and motorists frustrated because they did not know about the moves ahead of time so they could detour instead of waiting for long periods of time, even hours. During Monday night's move the large signs alerting traffic to the delays had been removed because it was thought that traffic would not be affected at length, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
It was at least the second time that delays during the supermoves were extensive. During the move this past Monday night at 7 p.m. delays were supposed to only last 15-20 minutes but ended up lasting much longer because at the last minute officials felt they had to put down additional support planks, which takes about 45 minutes to put down and 45 minutes to take up. With two moves during the evenings, traffic was adversely impacted.
The I-M, Greensville County Sheriff's Office and Emporia Emergency Manager Ken Ryals have been working closely to notify the public of the supermoves but it hasn't been easy.
If the updates are not in time for publication in our newspaper, be sure to check us out on our Facebook page and new Internet site, emporiaindependentmessenger.com. (Just like us on Facebook to receive notifications about this situation, breaking news, photo galleries and more.)
Remembering the number of people killed on Suicide Strip (East 58) during the construction to make the road four lanes, the I-M started looking to help the situation. Several people were killed in the 1970s when motorists suddenly encountered stopped traffic and the newspaper wanted to be able to get information out to local residents who have expressed their frustrations with the situation to the I-M in a timely manner.
DMV officials, who are in charge of notifying local government officials and the media, said they would try to do better about notifying the I-M in the future.
Sometimes you just have to reach the right person....and that happened thanks to VDOT Superintendent Joe Lomax. The paper reached out to him to find out who that right person was. Just minutes later, Ken Jennings, VDOT Senior Project Manager called to say that due to the concerns expressed by the I-M superloads will occur at 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. and not be at 7 p.m. any more.
He thanked the paper for bringing forth the concerns on our staff, sheriff's office and emergency management and we quickly received a "tentative" schedule of moves from now through the first of November.
Dominion Virginia Power is building a 1,358-megawatt, natural gas fueled power station near Lawrenceville in Brunswick County. It is a $2 billion project that is bringing in much needed revenue to Brunswick County, and to a lesser extent, Greensville County and Emporia.
Although the I-M can't help everyone with every issue, we want the community to know we listen when you express concerns, especially safety issues, and we are dedicated to giving you the most updated information we can about issues that affect you, which is why we now try to update our Facebook page and Internet site daily.