460 concerns unanswered

Published 9:48 pm Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Concerns about access to property after a new U.S. Route 460 is built went mostly unaddressed during a City Council work session on Wednesday.

Angel Deem, state environmental division director at the Virginia Department of Transportation, said property owners who have concerns about accessing their land and moving equipment after the new road takes shape are talking individually with VDOT so the department can understand their needs.

Councilman Donald Goldberg raised the concern for farmers, business owners and a school, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, where he sits on the board, during Wednesday’s work session.

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“In general, those are questions that remain to be answered,” Deem said. “None of those decisions have been made.”

Deem said property owners are encouraged to have individual meetings with VDOT.

“Obviously, access is one of the chief concerns, as well as movement of equipment,” she said.

The eastern terminus of the new road will connect with U.S. Route 58 in an interchange that will cut off Murphys Mill Road and General Early Drive. A relocated General Early Drive and a connector for Murphys Mill Road are planned.

Deem said about 83 parcels in Suffolk will be affected, and seven of those would be total displacements of the home or business.

The new Route 460 would be a new road to just west of Windsor, where improvements to the existing road would begin and continue to west of Zuni.

Deem said the new road is expected to be able to handle 13,400 vehicles per hour in an evacuation situation — one of the main justifications for improving the road. Currently, it can handle only 4,800 vehicles per hour.

But that brought up another concern for Councilman Mike Duman.

“It’s going up the same old 460,” he said. “It’s going to be a little tight. You’re going to have a bottleneck somewhere.”

But Deem noted the project “does provide an improvement over existing conditions” and is expected to reduce the crash rate by 41 percent.

The new and improved portion of Route 460 features higher traffic volumes and denser development than does the rest of the road, Deem said. She also added improvements to portions of the road farther west are a possibility but would not be done as part of this project.