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Kendall pushes CTB for I-73 funding

Thursday, June 6, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin staff writer

A member of the Henry County Board of Supervisors attended a public hearing in Roanoke on Tuesday to support funding for construction of Interstate 73.

Iriswood District Supervisor Milton Kendall said he attended the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s public hearing on the Six-Year Plan as a representative of the supervisors to “advocate for the construction of” I-73 in Henry County.

“On behalf of the board, I encourage you to give I-73, and the residents of Henry County, the attention they deserve,” Kendall told the CTB.

Development of new interstate “is one of the most significant components in our economic development efforts. I-73 will provide our employers with improved access to major markets; it will enhance tourism opportunities by improving access to our area; and it will significantly improve corporate recruitment efforts,” he said.

“Many industries and business prospects simply will not consider localities without interstate access. We need to remove this barrier to business recruitment in our area of Virginia,” he said.

Kendall reminded the CTB that the Federal Highway Administration recently issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact,” or FONSI, for the Alternative Route of I-73 through Henry County. “That means we are ready to move forward with this life-changing” project, he said. “We just need someone to pay for it.”

The Henry County Alternative Route calls for construction of I-73 to begin between the Patriot Centre industrial park and the U.S. 58 Bypass and continue south to the North Carolina line, with an interchange near Martinsville Speedway.

“Such action would connect the Patriot Centre area, where almost 4,000 people work, and our biggest tourism draw, Martinsville Speedway, with a much-improved access route,” Kendall said. “If that were to happen, it would benefit not just Martinsville and Henry County but the entire commonwealth.”

While the supervisors and county residents “certainly understand that money is scarce for a project of this magnitude,” Kendall said the lack of funding does not mitigate the need for the new road.

“We need this highway and the benefits that it will provide” to this part of Virginia, Kendall said, and added that the supervisors are “willing to put in the work required, and we hope that the CTB and the Department of Transportation are as well.”

Kendall said he reiterated supervisors’ commitment “to doing whatever is asked of us to see” the project come to fruition, and “that we remain excited about” the project.

County resident Skip Ressel, a long-time I-73 supporter, also attended the hearing and made a statement in support of the project, Kendall said.

County Administrator Tim Hall said Aaron Burdick, executive director of the West Piedmont Planning District Commission, also attended the public hearing.

The CTB did not respond while Kendall and Ressel were at the meeting, Kendall said.

But, he added “I think it’s important to put your request in. If we don’t ask, we’ll never get anything, so I took a shot,” Kendall said.

After all, he added, “it can’t hurt.”


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