VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – One ongoing debate over a Virginia Beach project is coming to an end, so it’s time for you to voice your opinion on his environmental impact study project.
The back and forth began in the 70s when questions arose about how to improve Sandbridge Road. Since then, plans have evolved over time to instead extend an already existing Nimmo promenade.
The idea on the table would make Nimmo an additional route to use in cases where Sandbridge Road is impassable during storms. Currently there is only one road inside and outside the mixed residential/vacation area.
The extension of the road would be built along a strip of land, bought by the city nearly 30 years agowhich bisects the Lago Mar neighborhood, crosses Ashville Bridge Creek, and crosses about a mile through the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Documents show the road would be an undivided two-lane road with shoulders, on-road cycle lanes and a single shared-use lane. The project extends from Albuquerque Drive to the west and Sandbridge Road to the east.
The nearly two mile long proposal would meet at a point on Sandbridge Road as pictured below.
Having only one way in and out of Sandbridge has created problems in the past, especially with approaching coastal storms and flooding.
Project leaders say the community would not have to rely on Naval Air Station Oceana – Dam Neck Annex for this alternate access. According to the City of Virginia Beach, the Navy said this emergency access cannot be guaranteed when needed and cannot be relied upon.
The added access is welcomed by some members of the Sandbridge residential community, but not everyone agrees. Lago Mar residents have pushed back in the past, citing the road’s proximity to their neighborhood and other impacts.
Moreover, some environmentalists have pushed back. The land over which the road would be extended divides the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, meaning the city would build through some of the marshes.
The Southern Environmental Law Center says the extension of the road not only affects wildlife habitats, but
this “would compromise the ability of wetlands to absorb flood waters during coastal storms and wind tides, making nearby homes more vulnerable to flooding during heavy storms.”
Several alternatives to the current proposed project have been considered, according to the City of Virginia Beach website. Studies carried out reported that the Nimmo Parkway Corridor had a slightly greater impact on wetlands, but had “significantly less impact on private properties, businesses, homes, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services properties”.
A city website dedicated to the project indicates that it will not move any residence, adding that all the work carried out will be done as far as possible in the existing right-of-way.
Still, signs line the nearby roads saying “Say NO to Nimmo VII-B”, “Fix Sandbridge Roa” and “Protect Back Bay”. Those calling for repairs and improvements to Sandbridge Road instead believe it will have less impact on the environment.
Virginia Beach city leaders said they will implement mitigation efforts to preserve the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, such as:
- Small wildlife crossings
- Use of native vegetation for seeding road shoulders
- Planting of native trees and shrubs in the road corridor
- Motion sensor lighting along the roadway to minimize ambient light at night
- Educational signage
With regard to flooding, the information collected by the Southern Environmental Law Center suggests build on swampy and swampy areas reduce the natural ability of the area to mitigate already intense flooding.
The City of Virginia Beach says the project would not create a levee, an embankment that confines water. Instead, they say the 800-foot-long bridge over Ashville Bridge Creek will allow water to flow with drainage systems.
Your opportunity to express an opinion on the draft environmental assessment ends on June 24. You can do this by clicking here.
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