City seeks road money from feds

Published 6:20 pm Saturday, July 4, 2009

Suffolk plans to apply for federal money to fund the Holland Road widening and Kings Highway Bridge projects, according to letters from the city manager to council members.

City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn wrote that she intends to apply for stimulus money for the Holland Road project. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law in February, includes $1.5 billion for Grants for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery — or TIGER discretionary grants. The grant is competitive, and awards will vary from $20 million to $300 million, with each state limited to a maximum of $300 million. The Holland Road widening project is expected to cost about $97 million.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the grants will be awarded based on long-term improvements in the state of repair, sustainability and safety of the transportation project and the livability of the area, as well as the degree of job creation. The department also will give priority to projects that use innovative strategies and strategic partnerships, and contribute to the economic competitiveness of the country. Projects should “have a significant impact on desirable long-term outcomes for the nation, a metropolitan area, or a region,” according to the program criteria.

The grant process for the area is being coordinated through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, Cuffee-Glenn wrote.

In addition, city staff in May met with Congressmen Randy Forbes and Glenn Nye, and Senator Mark Warner, as well as staff from Senator Jim Webb’s office. Cuffee-Glenn followed up on the meetings with letters to each of the officials, asking for their support for the city’s request of Surface Transportation Authorization funds.

These funds are meant help with congestion relief plans designed to increase mobility and accessibility of people and freight in major metropolitan areas.

“Because much of our transportation needs can be directly linked to the growth of the ports in Hampton Roads, which includes growth in both truck and rail traffic, the city has requested Surface Transportation Authorization funds to widen a portion of Route 58,” Cuffee-Glenn wrote to Webb. She added that $20 million would cover right-of-way acquisition for about three miles of the road to make way for the widening.

“The widening of this stretch of Route 58 will help alleviate the severe congestion on this roadway during peak times and will accommodate the expected increase in congestion as a result of recently approved industrial and commercial centers in this area,” Cuffee-Glenn wrote, noting the CenterPoint intermodal center approved in January.

She added that funds also were being sought for the King’s Highway Bridge. Forbes has submitted both of the funding requests to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for its consideration, she concluded.