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U.S. 58 widening bill passes House
Friday, February 8, 2013
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Widening the eight-mile Lover’s Leap section of U.S. 58 in Patrick County to four lanes is prioritized under a bill approved by the state House of Delegates this week, according to the lawmaker who sponsored it.
House Bill 1953, sponsored by Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, was approved in a 69-31 vote. Also voting to approve the bill were Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, and Del. Don Merricks, R-Pittsylvania County.
The bill now is being considered by the state Senate, where it is before the finance committee, a legislative information website shows.
In 1989, the General Assembly established the U.S. Route 58 Corridor Development Program, aimed at eventually four-laning the entire road.
According to Poindexter, HB1953 makes important structural changes to bond authorization measures outlined in the program. It would let bonds be reissued as long as the principle amount issued does not exceed the bond authorization limit set by the General Assembly.
“This legislation will convert the current bond authorization into a revolving fund so that reborrowing can occur as current bond liabilities are repaid,” he wrote in a release.
“This new, innovative approach,” Poindexter added, “will ensure Virginia can continue to fund the project in the future,” yet stay within the state’s funding capabilities.
Economic developers have said that the widening of U.S. 58 from Interstate 77 in Carroll County to Stuart would help lure companies to Henry and Patrick counties and Martinsville. That is because it would be easier for large trucks used by companies to travel along the highway.
The stretch of U.S. 58 that the bill targets is between Stuart and Vesta.
The highway stretches across basically all of southern Virginia, from the coalfields in the southwestern part of the state to the coast.
Since 1989, the highway has been widened to four lanes between Virginia Beach and Stuart, and bypasses have been built around South Hill, Clarksville, Danville, Martinsville and Stuart, Poindexter said.