HIGHLAND SPRINGS, Va. (WWBT) - A popular cut-through road in Highland Springs is permanently closed and forcing many drivers to change their habits.
That’s because construction began on the new Highland Springs High School, and it’s being built right on top of East Beal Street.
Henrico County leaders announced Wednesday East Beal Street between South Oak Avenue and South Airport Drive would be permanently closed beginning Thursday, Oct. 3.
However, some drivers left for work Thursday morning using the road only to the come back home to a road block.
“Oh, my girlfriend is going to be some kind of upset,” Mary Beale-Jones said. “She’s not going to be able to come this way for a long time.”
But that “long time” is actually forever.
“I know it says closed, but I didn’t know it was going to be closed permanently,” Pete Miller who lives in the area, said.
The new Highland Springs High School will be built on top of East Beal Street, covered by a parking lot, tennis courts and the new synthetic turf football field.
"I see the bulldozer over there,” Jones said. “I was wondering when they were going to start building that school because that school is old."
Construction crews were on site Thursday morning cutting down trees to clear the land for future construction.
Meanwhile, the road blocks caught many people by surprise, including Jones.
"I was saying what can I do? Can I back up?” she said.
Jones eventually turned around in a nearby parking lot. It was a common move made by dozens of drivers Thursday, unaware of the permanent road closure.
E. Beal Street was a heavily traveled road to the hundreds of homes and apartments in the area.
"Everybody around this area has to find another route to go," Jones said.
Drivers will now have to take South Oak Avenue to Nine Mile Road in order to hop on Airport Drive. South Holly Road is also another option. For Jones, she's worried about traffic.
"Oh my gracious, this is going to be so congested," she said.
However, Miller doesn't feel the road closure will be too much of a problem.
"They know they're getting something better built for the school and everything,” he said. “They can make different arrangements."
Henrico County Police routinely patrol this area and that's not going to change now that E. Beal Street is closed for good. Officers will now turn their attention to other roads that drivers may end up using as cut-throughs.
As for school buses headed to the current Highland Springs High School, a spokesman said buses enter from S. Oak Avenue and E. Nine Mile Road, therefore there are no major changes.
“Some athletic trips would use Beal Street, but we’ll adjust accordingly,” he said.
The new school will be built on property along E. Beal Street, adjacent to the existing school. The new structure will be a two-story building facing S. Airport Drive and is expected to open in 2021.
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