New interstate to bring business to Southside

Published: Jun. 27, 2017 at 8:01 PM EDT
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A new interstate could help attract industry and business to hometowns in Southside. State and local officials gathered in Danville Tuesday to reveal the "Future I-785 Corridor" signs that will be re-installed along the U.S. 29 bypass.

U.S. 29 will become an interstate stretching all the way from Blairs, Virginia to Greensboro, North Carolina. It's just a matter of time before the signs are switched over.

"This sign is a symbol of a promise, a promise that needs to become a commitment," Senator Bill Stanley said.

The signs were actually installed back in 1998, but some have disappeared. According to the city, it was probably due to snow removal. Officials say that interstate accessibility is the most important thing CEO's look at when deciding where to locate or expand business.

"To be able to see an interstate sign, even if it says future is something that contributes to the overall story about why Danville/Pittsylvania County is a good location for the project being pursued," Danville Mayor John Gilstrap said.

From an economic standpoint, the economic development director says it will put Southside on the map.

"It puts us on the radar for certain types of industries that are looking for that type of transportation infrastructure," Economic Development Director Telly Tucker says.

But like any roadway project, it will take time and money. Officials say they have to stay focused to get it done.

"This infrastructure is critical, but if we want it, we must fight for it and if we fight for it, we will get it, we will build it, and it will be an integral piece of this new economy in Southside," Senator Bill Stanley said.

There's no time frame in mind for when the conversion will be complete. As it stands, the road fits interstate standards, there are just a few areas that need upgrades before the interstate signs go up.

Officials say hopefully the governors of Virginia and North Carolina can meet soon to come up with a plan to make those improvements.