Road projects named

Published 9:46 pm Monday, September 29, 2014

Suffolk’s delegation joined in a unanimous vote by Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission members Monday to approve a draft budget that includes widening Interstate 64, Patriot’s Crossing and replacing the High-Rise Bridge as the organization’s initial projects.

Recommending the projects to commission members, Transportation Secretary said the I-64 widening, the so-called third crossing and bridge replacement are “significant projects, no matter what else we do.”

“Those are key to any transportation network success in Hampton Roads,” he said.

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Widening I-64, in three segments, is further advanced than Patriot’s Crossing and the High-Rise Bridge, for which environmental and engineering work is required before construction work could begin.

Widening Route 58 in western Suffolk is among the projects the commission has on its long-term list, but no funds for that project were proposed in this round of budgeting.

Including money from the new revenue stream the commission was created to spend and other state funds, “a little over $300 million is sitting there to be used on projects,” Layne said.

“Quite frankly, we have got a lot of money, and the citizens demand we start approving them so their lives can get better,” he said.

Members also voted unanimously to authorize a memorandum of understanding between the commission and VDOT to start moving the projects forward before the commission has executive staff in place.

A final vote on the budget and initial projects list will occur after a period for citizens’ comments, including a public hearing.

“The longer we delay, the more expensive this projects will become,” said Sen. Frank Wagner, commission vice chair. Wagner also said that no early project would include tolls.

The commission also unanimously approved a draft request for proposals to banking services to the commission. The services could be provided by one bank or more than one bank.

The General Assembly created the commission in 2013, giving it the power to combine tolls with new transportation funding, set to be about $200 million annually, to solve traffic congestion in Hampton Roads.

On the commission board are 14 representatives of Hampton Roads localities, five General Assembly members and five non-voting representatives of state agencies.