VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - "Road closed" signs, traffic cones and bulldozers are just some of the things you'll have to navigate if you drive down Laskin Road in Virginia Beach.
Since September 2019, Virginia Department of Transportation crews have been working on the Laskin Road Bridge Replacement and Widening Project.
"Essentially, it's construction of an eight-lane divided highway with sidewalks and a dedicated right turn lane on either side of Laskin Road and then a bridge replacement project as well," said Jordan-Ashley Walker, Senior Communication Specialist with VDOT.
That means that bottle-necking and feeder lanes from Republic Road to Red Robin Road will soon be a distant memory.
"As people are traveling through this corridor, they are going to notice traffic shifts, lane reductions and that's so we can get underground and do those utility updates," said Walker.
According to VDOT, included in the $83.2 million project will be about 12 miles of underground utilities. They report installing a total of 3.8 miles of new storm water drainage pipe, 3.1 miles of sanitary sewer pipe and 4.5 miles of domestic water pipe underground. Much of that work has already been completed underground, but isn't visible to the everyday drivers.
The utility updates are expected to yield significant improvements to stormwater management, drainage and water and sewage systems in the corridor.
VDOT confirmed that sections of the road, like near Winwood Drive, have been completed.
Liz Romero-Kibiloski, who works at The Globe in the Hilltop Shopping Center, said, "I think it's a good thing for the area because the feeder roads have been confusing, I think, for people - especially tourists or first timers to the area. Our local folks, or the people who come in regularly, know to expect that they have to take a little bit of time to get here."
It's no secret that the area, and much of Hampton Roads, floods a lot. VDOT said that’s one issue that this project is going to help alleviate.
Walker said, "That's part of the utility work that we were talking about before - is improvements to drainage so that some of those areas where you’ll notice standing water can be improved moving forward."
Notably near the bridge over Linkhorn Bay, which is being replaced after more than 50 years.
John Arms, the VDOT area construction engineer, said, "They built the first portion of the bridge around the 1930s, and then they widened it out around like 1950s."
The ongoing demolition, which began in fall 2020, is being done in a phased approach that allows two-way traffic to safely remain on the bridge at all times. The contractor has installed concrete piles and placed concrete beams for the first phase of the new bridge construction, which will continue for several months.
The next change Walker wants drivers to be aware of is, "As they're driving through the corridor in the next couple of weeks, there’s going to be work that’s done at the First Colonial Intersection. That’s probably the biggest intersection in this project."
While drivers said they can be frustrated with the traffic and road conditions, they're looking forward to the final product.