Parkway completion ends four-decade wait


Residents of the nearby Eagles Creek and Eagles Ridge communities joined in the party with county supervisors, planning commission members, and public works officials – not to mention eager motorists – as Henrico County celebrated the long-awaited completion of the John Rolfe Parkway with a Nov. 8 ribbon-cutting ceremony at John Rolfe Commons.

As the traffic barriers were cleared away following the ceremony, motorists were already waiting to proceed from Ridgefield Parkway to Pump Road and beyond, while children clapped and skipped and neighbors snapped pictures.

A motorcyclist who lives nearby was the first to travel the length of the parkway after getting in line behind the police cruiser that swept the newly opened stretch of road.

Opening Phase II of the John Rolfe Parkway (JRP) to traffic marked the culmination of more than four decades of planning and construction for the project.

The four-lane, divided roadway, which serves as a north-south connector providing western Henrico residents with direct access to West Broad Street, was originally designed as the path for Route 288.

Long time coming
"Where we're standing," said Department of Public Works Director Tim Foster in remarks preceding the ceremony, "was supposed to be a cloverleaf interchange [for Route 288]."

Following the Commonwealth Transportation Board's 1988 decision to adopt a western alignment for 288 – which now traverses the eastern end of Goochland County – Henrico officials spent a decade reworking the plans, holding hearings and completing the segment of the parkway from Lauderdale Road to Ridgefield Parkway.

It took another decade or so of hearings, route proposals and give-and-take with state and federal agencies before construction on the Phase I portion from Pump Road to West Broad St. could be completed this year.

Prior to the ceremony, Henrico officials could not resist poking fun at the amount of time the project has been in the works.

"It's been 400 years in the making," joked Foster, in a reference to the county's 400th anniversary.

"This project has taken so long that John Rolfe himself could have had a hand in it."

Bagel Boulevard?
Henrico County Manager Virgil Hazelett pointed out that he first heard of the road project when he was a traffic engineer in the Department of Public Works.

In the span of time since 1966, when Henrico officials requested a study of the proposed route for 288 from the Virginia Department of Transportation, four different county managers and seven different directors of Public Works have had to deal with the project.

"I never thought 40 years ago – no one was aware then – that this would take so long," said Hazelett.

After Route 288 moved west in 1988, Hazelett recalled, he was in a meeting where officials were munching bagels as they brainstormed a new name for the road.

Before the creative juices started flowing and officials arrived at the name of John Rolfe, said Hazelett with a chuckle, one participant amused the group by proposing in jest that they designate the road "Bagel Boulevard."

TGIF
Ironically enough, after decades of delayed attempts to finish the road, Phase II was finished almost five months ahead of schedule. The completed JRP is expected to ease traffic congestion in Short Pump as well as relieving traffic on roads such as Ridgefield, Lauderdale and Pump. In addition, it's possible that the convenient new corridor will help businesses along John Rolfe and Ridgefield to pick up new customers.

Tuckahoe Supervisor Pat O'Bannon -– who peppered her remarks with references to road signs and traffic hazards as she described the project's "bumpy timeline [abundant with] stops, starts, and yielding" – drew the loudest applause of the day as she summed up her feelings about the completed road.

"TGIF!" exclaimed O'Bannon in closing. "Thank goodness it's finished!"

Readers: How has the completion of the John Rolfe Parkway helped (or hindered) you? Has it helped shorten your commute? Saved time on shopping trips, or trips to soccer practice? Noticeably relieved traffic on other nearby roadways? Send your comments to Patty Kruszewski (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) for possible inclusion in a future update concerning the JRP and its usage.
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Smither named director of Henrico’s Department of Finance

Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas has appointed Edward N. “Ned” Smither Jr. to serve as director of the Department of Finance, effective July 1.

Smither has served Henrico since 2013 as director of the Accounting Division in Finance. He will succeed Eugene H. Walter, who has delayed his retirement until June 30 to ensure an orderly transition within the department.
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State honors EMS officials this week

There were nearly 1.5 million emergency medical services calls and 4,063 incidents per day in Virginia just last year.

This week, May 21-27, declared as National EMS week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, recognizes the more than 34,000 EMS personnel and 631 agencies in the state and commends their efforts and commitment to Commonwealth citizens.
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Norfolk man arrested at RIC after TSA catches him with gun

A Norfolk man was arrested at Richmond International Airport May 18 after Transportation Security Administration officers detected a loaded semi-automatic handgun in the traveler’s carry-on bag.

A TSA officer detected the .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun inside the man’s carry-on bag as it passed through the security checkpoint X-ray machine. The handgun was loaded with 13 bullets.
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Police release photo of hoax bomb

Henrico Police have released a photo of the clock that resembled a bomb that led to the arrest of a Richmond woman in Shot Pump earlier this week.

The device, which the woman told police she purchased at a yard sale, was visible in her car at the Whole Foods at West Broad Village May 19, and a passerby called police, fearing it was a real bomb. Police responded as they would have had the device been real, they said, because they weren't sure if it was real or not.
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Henrico school buses with compliance issue to be fixed this summer


The 176 Henrico school buses that have been purchased since March 2011 will be fixed during the summer, Henrico Schools spokesman Andy Jenks told the Citizen. The bus manufacturers will retrofit the buses at no cost to the school division, he said.

The brake interlock device is required on all automatic transmission buses in Virginia that were purchased after March 2011, which is when the device was added to the state Board of Education's requirements for school buses. As many as 4,000 school buses in the state may be affected, according to the Virginia Department of Education.
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Splash into summer at the brand new Eastern Henrico Recreation Center Sprayground. A grand opening celebration with contests, games and an inflatable water slide will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Admission is free. For details, call 652-1422 or visit http://www.henrico.us/rec. Full text

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