Ralph: Route 460 is a priority

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005

If U.S. Route 460 could be classified as an Interstate, it might be eligible for more funding.

At two regional public hearings next month, Suffolk Mayor Bobby L. Ralph hopes that a step toward such a classification can be taken.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is hosting the forums from 4 to 7 p.m. July 12 and July 14 to gather citizen comments on future improvements to Route 460, between Interstate 295 in Prince George County and the Suffolk Bypass.

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&uot;We are certainly pushing 460 up the priority list for funding,&uot; Ralph said. &uot;We know that there are options out there. If it is upgraded and the improvements are made, then 460 could become eligible as interstate transportation, which would place it in the arena for funding.&uot;

Eric Nielsen, the city’s ublic works director, will represent Suffolk at the hearings, Ralph said.

VDOT is also releasing its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for public review. The result of more than two years of environmental analysis and public participation, the DEIS shows the need for improvements or changes to the major state thoroughfare, said Reid Whiting, a VDOT spokeswoman. It explores the alternatives being considered and possible environmental consequences of each option.

The DEIS looks at the alternatives developed to address a range of transportation needs, including travel delay, safety, roadway deficiencies, and hurricane evacuation, Whiting said.

Three proposed alternatives that would involve major improvements include:

Option 1 calls for building a four-lane, limited access highway on a new location south of existing Route 460.

Option 2 proposes a similar highway located to the north of the current Route 460.

Option 3 nearly mirrors the alignment of the existing Route 460, but includes northern bypasses around Windsor, Zuni, Ivor, Waverly, Wakefield and Disputanta.

Two other low and no-build alternatives call for making relatively minor improvements, such as adding turn lanes, advance warning lights, and rumble strips.

The July 12 hearing will be held at Windsor High School, 24 Church St., Windsor. The July 14 forum will be at J.E.J. Moore Middle School, 11455 Prince George Drive, Disputanta.

Members of the VDOT’s 460 study team will be on hand with exhibits and to answer questions from the public, Whiting said.

The DEIS can be reviewed at local libraries, VDOT offices and on the study’s Web site: www.vdot.virginia.gov/projects/460.asp.

Staff writer Jason Norman contributed to this report.