Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Fairly local facts: Why does James City County have two Ironbound roads?

(WYDaily/Courtesy of Google Maps)

Anyone who has just moved to the James City County area has probably run into this issue before: Someone gives you an address for Ironbound Road, but on Google Maps, it appears there are two possible locations.

Hmm.

The maps aren’t playing tricks on you. James City County does indeed have two roads named Ironbound, and it’s not because county officials liked the name so much they decided to use it twice.

“Down in front of The Meadows, [the road] appears to be a dead-end, but then it picks up again over by Courthouse Commons,” said Christy Parrish, the county’s zoning administrator.

But once upon a time, back when Monticello Avenue was mostly farmland and New Town was barely a thought, Ironbound Road was one long stretch of road.

Ironbound Road reached all the way from Jamestown Road, through John Tyler Highway, past The Meadows subdivision, skirting around the city limits of Williamsburg, all the way to Richmond Road.

So what happened?

Well, state Route 199 happened.

“The original Ironbound Road (Route 615) was previously a continuous secondary road that stretched from Jamestown Road (Route 31) to Richmond Road (Route 60) until it was bisected by the construction of Route 199 (Humelsine Parkway) in early 2000,” said Brittany McBride Nichols, assistant communications manager for the Hampton Roads District of VDOT.

State Route 199 was originally built in 1975, attracting residential and business development to the Historic Triangle. According to a Daily Press article from 2002, the route reached its year-2000 projections by 1983. At that point, the population of James City County was at 25,588, and it would continue to grow rapidly.

By 2000, the county population would nearly double to 48,505.

The yellow line on the map to the left indicates the original path of Ironbound Road, while the blue line on the map to the right shows the Ironbound Roads we know today. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Christy Parrish)

County officials then lobbied the state highway department to extend the route west and north of Williamsburg.

The extension of Route 199 officially opened in August of 1999, connecting Interstate 64 in two places.

And splitting Ironbound Road into two.

Parrish has lived in the Peninsula area her whole life and said she remembers a time before the extensions were built.

“I remember [Ironbound Road] dead-ending into a field before 199 came through. At that point I was wondering, ‘How in the world is this going to look?’ And now I can’t picture it any other way,” she said.

These aerial maps on the county website show the amount of land cleared away for the project.

As one road or two, Ironbound is still a staple of James City County, and now you know a little more about it, too.

Have something you’ve always wondered about the Historic Triangle? Email us your questions here.

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