Road woes

Published 11:49 pm Friday, January 14, 2011

Route 58: Traffic backs up along U.S. Route 58 westbound at the end of the downtown bypass on Friday afternoon. The governor’s transportation project recommendations include improvements to Route 58, but not in Suffolk.

Transportation priorities released

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday released his list of more than 900 projects on his transportation agenda.

As expected, U.S. Route 460 is on the list, as is a slate of improvements to U.S. Route 58. However, no projects for Route 58 are listed in Suffolk.

“Job creation will not be sustainable without a transportation system that is reliable,” McDonnell said in his State of the Commonwealth speech Wednesday. “Transportation helps drive economic growth, and for far too long Virginia has been stuck in neutral.”

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Over the next three years, the proposed projects will pump $4 billion into transportation and create tens of thousands of new jobs, McDonnell claimed.

About $5.7 million is set aside for development and management of the Route 58 project under the Public Private Transportation Act. Many localities along the major road have specific projects listed, such as a $20 million project in Southampton County to construct an interchange. No specifics, however, are listed for Suffolk.

City officials hoped to get state or federal money to help widen Holland Road at the west end of the downtown bypass, an area that is frequently congested and has a massive intermodal center currently under development.

Projects listed for Suffolk include widening a 1/3-mile stretch of Nansemond Parkway to four lanes; paying for engineering and right-of-way acquisition for the eventual reconstruction of Shoulders Hill Road; and reconstructing a portion of Route 1003.

The governor also proposed legislation to dedicate a quarter of a percent of the discretionary sales tax generate within Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia to transportation improvements in those regions, a move that is expected to generate a combined $140 million per year.

At Friday’s press conference, Speaker William Howell (R-Stafford) called the plan a “comprehensive transportation reform and revitalization package.”

“Transportation has long been one of the Commonwealth’s major challenges,” he said. “It impacts not only our economic competitiveness, but our citizens’ every day quality of life.”

The transportation plan includes a number of bills, including one that would provide a tax credit to employers for expenses incurred in allowing employees to telework. Another would provide a $50 per container income tax credit for any company that ships cargo containers via barge or rail, which is expected to reduce emissions and congestion along Interstate 64.