A massive road construction project in the mountains of Patrick County continues toward a completion date estimated to be during the summer of 2026.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) said last week that the current work includes clearing and grading activities on the west and east portions of the project, and while traffic impacts are limited in the east section, flagging operations may by in place in the west section.
A 45 mph speed reduction is in place on U.S. 58 for the entire length of the project, and message boards are in place to alert traffic and drivers should expect delays, VDOT said.
In addition to the road construction, a flagging operation with a mobile lane closure may be in place on U.S. 58 on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for tree trimming as part of the overall U.S. 58 Lovers Leap Project and, if weather cooperates, should be finished at the end of this Sunday, VDOT said.
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Blasting operations are underway as well and intermittent blasting will continue to occur during weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at various locations on the project through the summer of 2025.
Blasting is impacting traffic in the vicinity of Dehart Botanical Gardens, approximately 1.7 miles east of the Lovers Leap Mountain overlook and Fred Clifton Park.
When the blasting occurs close to U.S. 58, traffic in both directions may be blocked for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time, VDOT said. Drivers and residents along the U.S. 58 corridor should expect loud noise and allow extra travel time to reach their destinations.
Electronic message boards are being used to inform drivers of the scheduled blasting that will impact traffic, a weekly update from VDOT stated.
While traveling through the area, you will likely notice unusually colored fluorescent pink detour signs, the color VDOT uses for incident detours that are not permanent or scheduled.
The pink detour signs apply to all traffic during incidents including tractor-trailers and other large vehicles, the update stated.
“We are making headway at our Lover’s Leap project,” Branch Civil posted on its Facebook page in November. “The project spans over 7.5 miles and has an elevation change of 1,713 feet from top to bottom. Thanks to our hard-working employee owners we have been able to move 656,000 cubic yards of the 10 million cubic yards of dirt we plan to move over the next four years, as well as taking erosion control measures, installing traps, silt fencing and clean water ditches in the necessary areas.”
Branch Civil is the company that was awarded the project and has said it is by far one of the most extensive projects they have ever done.
VDOT Resident Engineer Lisa Price-Hughes told the Patrick County Board of Supervisors at a regular meeting in September of last year that this year is the year they expect for “things to really crank up” and she was “still looking for a completion date in the summer of 2026.”
The $300 million expansion project had been on the drawing board for years and the work began in 2021.
Shortly after the project got underway, VDOT Communications Manager Jason Bond told the Bulletin that the state had “entered into a public-private partnership many years ago with the construction firm Branch Civic Inc. to widen a 36-mile piece between Hillsville and Stuart as funding became available.”
The U.S. 58 Corridor Development Program was created when the General Assembly funded the Lovers Leap section and Bond explained that the planners decided the best option at Lovers Leap was to build another two-lane portion over the mountain where the four lanes would be separated into two lanes in each directions without being adjacent to each other.
Previous phases of widening include a 3-mile Blue Ridge Parkway crossing at Meadows of Dan that was completed in May 2006 at a cost of $20 million.
In Aug. 2011 a 5.2-mile bypass in Carroll County built around the town of Hillsville was completed at a cost of $83 million.
For $120 million an 8.3-mile section at Tri-County and Laurel Fork was completed in Oct. 2016.
The two remaining sections of U.S. Route 58 to be widened between Hillsville and Stuart include projects at Vesta (four miles) and Crooked Oak (7.2 miles). Another 1.7 miles of State Route 669 in Carroll County will be improved as part of the Route 58 widening.
The Route 58 Corridor from Hillsville to Stuart is the last remaining section to complete the widening of Route 58 from Virginia Beach to I-77 and once connected with I-77, the long anticipated benefits of the 1989 General Assembly legislated U.S. Route 58 Corridor Development Program will greatly be enhanced throughout the entire region.
VDOT’s weekly road construction update also indicated work was underway to replace a bridge over Reed Creek on U.S. 220 Business Northbound in Henry County.
The bridge is located on U.S. 220 Business over Reed Creek and is approximately 0.4 miles east of the U.S. 220 and U.S. 220 Business intersection.
VDOT says the bridge work will require the northbound bridge being restricted to one lane of travel across the bridge throughout the duration of the project and will have a width restriction in place of 13 feet and 6 inches and lane closures will be in place.
Message boards at the Reed Creek Bridge Project will be in place to alert drivers, and the project has an expected completion date of late summer 2024.