Neighbors voice frustration as road closure extends more than a year: 'I want my street open'

Posted at 4:27 PM, Aug 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-18 18:58:21-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- The City of Petersburg said it would take a few weeks of work before they could reopen the Oak Hill Road bridge to traffic. More than a year later, the road remains closed, little to no work has been done, and neighbors inconvenienced by the closure are upset.

"It’s an enormous inconvenience," neighbor John Hennessee said. "Originally, I contacted the City and was told it would take six weeks."

But 17 months later, drivers still can't cross the Oak Hill Road bridge.

 Oak Hill Road bridge Petersburg

“I’m ready to go downtown and jump all over the desk," frustrated neighbor Bertha Hicks said. "I’m the third house on the street. The detour takes me a mile and a half to get to the corner."

So why the delay?

The City of Petersburg said the cost to make the needed repairs is $3.5 million. The higher-than-expected cost was due to new floodplain and wetland regulations. It was flood damage that forced the road to close in the first place.

 Oak Hill Road bridge Petersburg

The city requested money from the Virginia General Assembly to pay for the roadwork. That request was denied.

"I want my street open," Hicks said. "I want my street to represent the taxes I pay."

 Oak Hill Road bridge Petersburg

The wait for Hicks and other impacted neighbors could extend into next year.

The City of Petersburg said it planned to send a budget amendment request proposal back to the General Assembly when it meets in January 2024. In the meantime, Petersburg officials said they were looking at alternative funding such as state and federal grants.

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