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Cuccinelli stands by website video on 58
Friday, August 2, 2013
By FROM BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -
The stretch of U.S. 58 from Stuart to the coast is the most important part of the highway as far as economic development is concerned, according to Republican gubernatorial hopeful and state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
During a visit to Martinsville on Thursday, Cuccinelli made that comment in response to controversy over a video created by his campaign and posted on his website Sunday, showing remarks made by Democratic challenger Terry McAuliffe during a Virginia Bar Association debate July 20.
From an economic perspective, “what Martinsville and other areas need,” McAuliffe said in the video, “is they need to open up their communities and how you do that is, I say, four-lane 58 all the way out from the port (where the highway starts in Hampton Roads) so we can get the goods from the port, all the way out to the commerce of America.”
U.S. 58 runs across all of southern Virginia. The stretch from Stuart east to the coast is four lanes. Some portions in the southwestern part of the state are two lanes.
Following McAuliffe’s remarks, Cuccinelli’s campaign video shows interviews with people on the street who say they know that U.S. 58 is four lanes.
In a release, McAuliffe’s campaign criticized Cuccinelli’s campaign for going too far in its haste to criticize McAuliffe. The Democrats’ release claims that Cuccinelli doesn’t know that U.S. 58 continues past Martinsville and eventually becomes two lanes.
The video, the McAuliffe campaign release said, “is based entirely on the idea that Route 58 is already four lanes for its entire length.”
On Thursday, Cuccinelli stood behind his campaign video. He said he thinks McAuliffe’s comments in the video show McAuliffe was talking about a need to four-lane the stretch of U.S. 58 from Stuart to the coast, not portions west of Stuart that are two lanes.
The project to widen and improve U.S. 58 began in 1989. Since then, about 370 miles of the nearly 680 miles of the highway have been four-laned, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s U.S. 58 website, which was last updated in October 2012.
Legislation sponsored by Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, and approved by the General Assembly and signed into law earlier this year, provides funds to widen U.S. 58 to Interstates 77 and 81, prioritizing the Lover’s Leap area in Patrick County, Poindexter said in a release from Cuccinelli’s campaign.
Poindexter said Thursday that he eventually would like to see the rest of U.S. 58 widened.
But for now, he said, “very clearly for economic development purposes and safety, it’s critical that we link up (four lanes along U.S. 58) with Interstate 77.”
In addition to boosting local economic development, a four-lane U.S. 58 to I-77 would relieve traffic congestion on Interstates 64 and 81, he added.
For two-lane parts of U.S. 58 to be widened, there must be a substantial need both economically and in terms of traffic congestion, Cuccinelli said.
He said, though, he thinks the rest of the highway should be widened gradually.