Midlothian Turnpike businesses surprised by tree removal - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Midlothian Turnpike businesses surprised by tree removal

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Thousands of dollars in recently planted trees and plants along Midlothian Turnpike will be ripped up for a new construction project.

VDOT is extending left turn lanes by Chesterfield Towne Center, along Mall Drive, Johnston Willis Drive and Southlake Boulevard. Mostly federal money is paying for the construction, which aims to ease congestion and a history of rear-end collisions.

However, the work also involves ripping up thousands of dollars of landscaping, all installed in recent years on the medians in between the highway.

In order for the turn lanes to go in, three medians will have to be ripped up. This wasn't great news for the 350 businesses that paid to plant here.

"We were caught by surprise to say the least," said Ray Birk, chairman of the Midlothian Initiative to Revitalize Rights of Way. The group of businesses pay part of their property taxes goes to create nicer looking medians on the stretch by the mall.

"The business community decided to work with the county to see what we could do to spruce it up," said Birk.

However, Birk says the medians equal about $20,000 to be ripped up with the road. 

"We were very disappointed because we put a lot of time and effort into this...a lot of money into this," said Birk. However, he says they understand why the construction needs to be done. "It's all about safety. We understand the need to be safe."

The construction is set to end in May. The left turn lane on the stretch will be closed Sundays through Thursdays, overnight.

Ashley Venable, property manager of the Chesterfield Towne Center says the extended turn lanes will help shoppers headed to the mall.

"There is one turn lane that directly affects the mall traffic…so it will certainly help us cue up more folks coming into the mall," said Venable.

The Midlothian Initiative to Revitalize Rights of Way plans on replanting the medians when the construction is completed.

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