As the fastest growing locality in the Richmond region, Chesterfield’s population increased by more than 49,000 people between 2010 and 2020. About one-third of those new residents moved into neighborhoods west of the Swift Creek Reservoir, adding thousands of daily vehicle trips to the transportation network and exacerbating peak-hour traffic issues along Hull Street Road west of Route 288.
For the better part of the last decade, the Chesterfield Department of Transportation (CDOT) has been working on a multifaceted plan to alleviate congestion in that area and give motorists additional options for accessing Powhite Parkway or Route 288 during their daily commutes.
Now CDOT is preparing to move forward on several of those projects, including a four-lane extension of Woolridge Road 1.2 miles from Old Hundred Road to Route 288.
To accommodate the expected significant increase in traffic volume once that project is completed, CDOT also is planning to widen an existing 1.2-mile section of Woolridge Road from two to four lanes – with a 15-foot grass median, sidewalk and 10-foot shared-use path – between Genito and Lacoc roads.
Woolridge Road has always been envisioned as a four-lane divided roadway in the county’s long-range Thoroughfare Plan.
Chesterfield has scheduled two citizen information meetings so county residents can ask questions and provide feedback on the proposed widening project. The first will be held virtually via Zoom today from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Visit Woolridge Road Widening (arcgis.com) to register. An in-person meeting also will be held Tuesday, Jan. 31 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Woolridge Elementary School. The same information will be covered at both meetings.
Nate Mathis, CDOT’s manager for both Woolridge Road projects, said the planned roadway improvements are “part of making a web to help people get where they need to go.
“With all the work we’re doing on Woolridge, we want it to be another option for them to use,” he added. “When we open it up, instead of having to turn onto Genito or Old Hundred, there will be a direct link to 288.”
The Woolridge Road extension is fully funded and at the end of the engineering phase. According to Mathis, CDOT expects to advertise the project for construction bids this fall and begin construction the following spring, with a projected completion date of early 2026.
A traffic study projects that volume will increase from about 7,000 to 17,000 vehicles per day once the extension is finished.
CDOT hopes to be under construction on the Woolridge widening project by next spring. That would accommodate its goal of having it done at roughly the same time as the extension.
“We’re trying to time it out,” Mathis said. “We won’t open the extension if the widening project isn’t done yet.”
The time it takes to compete for and secure transportation funding from the state and federal governments, navigate their myriad regulatory requirements, acquire right-of-way and complete construction poses a considerable challenge for a locality the size of Chesterfield, which has 70 roadway projects totaling more than $500 million planned over the next six years.
State legislation authorizing creation of the Central Virginia Transportation Authority (CVTA) in 2020 has helped, generating a revenue stream for the county that exceeds $20 million annually and is dedicated solely to road improvements.
Design work is under way on Phase I of the Powhite Parkway Extension from its current terminus to Woolridge Road. That project, which will eventually link Powhite Parkway with Hull Street Road, is critical to both development of the Upper Magnolia Green property and alleviating traffic generated by ongoing residential growth in western Chesterfield.
In the meantime, CDOT has funding for two other projects that will make an immediate positive impact for motorists along the Hull Street Road corridor.
The first, adding a lane to the exit ramp from southbound Route 288 onto westbound Route 360, is expected to be under construction this summer. That project also includes a park-and-ride lot that will make it easier for commuters to carpool.
The Bailey Bridge Connector is in the final stages of being advertised for construction bids. It will provide a direct link from Brad McNeer Parkway to Bailey Bridge Road, allowing motorists who live in neighborhoods south of Hull Street Road to bypass the 288/360 interchange altogether.
That’s significant because, as growth continues to the west, traffic on Hull Street Road is projected to exceed 120,000 vehicles per day by the year 2040 – comparable to the amount of traffic currently on Interstate 95 near Route 10 in Chester.