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Norfolk, VA 23510
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It's Not Just Another New Road

August 26, 2010
By The Editorial Board

Once upon a time in Danville, there was no easy way to get from Westover Drive to Mount Cross Road. Those two roads meandered from Pittsylvania County into Danville and came to abrupt ends on Riverside Drive on either side of the Sandy River.

The Piedmont Drive extension, built during the late 1980s, changed that by linking Westover and Mount Cross with a new four-lane road. It wasn’t on the scale of driving the last spike of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah, in 1869, but it mattered to this community and its motorists.

That short road extension project had just one intersection. But from that intersection came a bloom of new restaurants, stores and medical offices.

Road construction has long been intertwined with economic development. But on the other side of Danville, VDOT and a group of landowners were recently entangled in a legal dispute over where an intersection would be built along the new Franklin Turnpike connector project.

The Franklin Turnpike connector will link Route 41 to the Danville Expressway, creating the potential for newretail and commercial development along land between the bypass and the Franklin Turnpike/North Main Street intersection.

In a growing local economy, that land could become another new location for development, tax base, consumer choices and jobs. That’s why the recent litigation between VDOT and the landowners had such important implications for the community’s future.

The court case was settled this week, with the state agreeing to work with landowners who will still be responsible for paying to build the intersection. But with the road currently under construction, now is clearly the best time to build that access to their land.

"We’re no longer landlocked," said Steve Richardson, managing partner for H&B Investment Properties. "Everyone wins. Hopefully this project is going to go forward now. Hopefully this will bring jobs."

That’s the bottom line, of course. Once the Franklin Turnpike connector is finally open, the process of attracting new development will be much easier.

What that development entails will be up to the private sector, of course. But this week’s settlement of the Franklin Turnpike connector lawsuit is good news for the community.