A project to improve safety at the Norton intersection of U.S. 23 and U.S. 58A has been approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

But city officials and motorists will have to wait awhile longer.

City Manager Fred Ramey confirmed Monday that the board approved the northbound U.S. 23 off ramp project when it met last week.

That means the project is part of the 2019-20 version of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s six-year plan.

However, Ramey noted, it is his understanding that the project is listed for year six. As it moves up in the plan, surveying and design work will begin earlier than year six, he added.

The intersection project was the only Norton proposal that qualified under Virginia’s relatively new SmartScale system of ranking construction priorities.

Currently, motorists who exit northbound 23 can get into a free-flow right turn lane at U.S. 58A to head in the direction of Coeburn. But it can be unnerving to attempt to merge into the flow of eastbound traffic coming from downtown Norton.

Also unnerving is to be the driver traveling on eastbound 58A, wondering if someone in the right turn merging lane is going to pull out in front of you.

The proposed solution is to eliminate the curving free-flow right turn lane off northbound 23. It would be replaced by adding about 125 feet of new pavement as a containment lane parallel with 58A. The change would require all drivers exiting 23 to stop at the 58A intersection before proceeding.

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