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Board selects Route for highway

Staff Report

The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) Thursday approved the location for a new Route 460 that would be built south of the existing road, providing an east-west transportation link connecting I-295 in the Petersburg region to Route 58 in Suffolk. The new road would be a four-lane divided highway with interchanges at towns and major secondary roads.           

 “Two years of environmental review and a great deal of public participation by citizens and local governments went into the location study of this important project that will move traffic more efficiently, serve as a better evacuation route and improve economic development in the region,” said Gregory A. Whirley, the acting commissioner for the Virginia Department of Transportation.     

 VDOT had presented five alternatives, including a no-build option, during two public hearings last summer.  The CTB opted for alternative 1 with further study of a minor alignment shift in Isle of Wight  County.  This would reduce impact to homes, but it would have greater impacts on farm land.  

 The CTB also directed VDOT to solicit private sector proposals under the Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA) to build the project.  A possible way to pay for the new Route 460 is through tolls under a public-private venture.  State and federal funds are not sufficient to pay for the project. The cost estimate ranges from $470 million to $627 million.  

 VDOT is expected to solicit private-sector proposals by next February. The Final Environmental Impact Statement is scheduled for completion in April 2006.  That would be followed by a Record of Decision by the Federal Highway Administration.        

Route 460 Project History

1930s – A two-lane highway is built parallel to the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad.

 1950s – The highway is widened to four lanes with no medians, shoulders or divided sections.

 2000 – The Virginia Transportation Act designates Route 460 as a “high priority corridor” between I-295 in the Petersburg region and the Route 58 in Suffolk. Previously, federal legislation also supported corridor improvements.

 2003 – VDOT begins a location study.  The study finds that Route 460 has design and operational deficiencies that cause safety and mobility problems; crash rates are higher than similar roadways in Virginia; truck traffic is forecasted to grow due to expansions at the Port of Virginia and future traffic volumes will result in increased traffic delays. Route 460 is a designated hurricane evacuation route and is part of the strategic highway network designated by the federal government.  Localities support transportation improvements to meet their economic development objectives

May 2005 – The Federal Highway Administration signs the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

July and June 2005 – 748 people attend two public hearings on alternatives to improve the Route 460 corridor.  500 responses are received through surveys, email, letters and oral comments.  The alternatives presented include building a new road, improving the existing one or continuing with minor improvements already planned for the existing route.  Public comments and local governments favor building a new and improved Route 460 south of the existing road.

 

November 2005 – The Commonwealth Transportation Board approves the favored option – building a new four-lane divided highway south of the existing road with additional study of a minor alignment shift in Isle of Wight County.  The minor alignment shift would impact fewer homes but have a greater impact on farmland.  The cost of the project ranges from $470 million to $627 million.  

 

By February of 2006 – VDOT plans to solicit private-sector proposals under the Public Private Transportation Act to build the new road.  It may be financed through tolls because funding is insufficient to build a new road.

 

By April 2006 – The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is scheduled for completion.  

 

Later in 2006 – The FHWA is expected to sign the FEIS and issue a Record of Decision.