No new bridges

Published 9:36 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Route 58, park-and-ride get state nod

Three transportation projects in Suffolk would get state funding if a recommendation from the state’s secretary of transportation survives.

Suffolk projects that would get funding under the recommended scenario include widening a portion of Route 58 — at a state cost of almost $40 million — as well as improvements to the Route 17 and Shoulders Hill Road intersection and the Route 10 park-and-ride lot.

The Route 17 project is expected to cost nearly $15 million, while the park-and-ride lot is slated for about $600,000 worth of improvements.

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The projects are part of a list of 287 applications made by 130 localities and regional organizations. They were evaluated as part of a new process that scores how well projects ease congestion, improve economic development, provide accessibility to jobs, improve safety and environmental quality and support transportation-efficient land use.

“This new law is revolutionizing the way transportation projects are selected,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe stated in a press release. “Political wish lists of the past are replaced with a data-driven process that is objective and transparent, making the best use of renewed state funding received in 2013 and the recently approved federal transportation funding. Each project is scored based on its merits and value, making Virginia the first state in the nation to use such an outcome-based prioritization process.”

Suffolk submitted two projects that are not recommended for funding: the replacement of the Kings Highway Bridge, a $75 million project, which ranked 254th out of 287; and improvements to the Mills Godwin Bridge, a $74.7 million project, which ranked 278th.

Isle of Wight County projects recommended for funding include an extension to Nike Park Road and improvements to the Route 17/Route 258 intersection.

Hampton Roads-area projects that scored high include the widening of Interstate 64 on the Peninsula, widening Interstate 64 on the Southside, improving the High Rise Bridge and improving the interchange of interstates 64 and 264.

In Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, projects scored higher if they would reduce congestion. Projects in other parts of the state scored higher if they would support economic development.

“This process was developed with extensive opportunity for public review,” Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said. “Meetings to review the process were held in several locations throughout the state, plus the projects were made available online.  The prioritization process improves the transparency and accountability of Virginia’s transportation program.”

The projects will be reviewed during the February Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting. In March and April, potential revisions to the recommendations will take place, with public hearings in the April-May time frame. The plan is expected to be adopted by June.

The recommendations do not negate the potential to fund certain projects with regional or local money, outside of the new statewide process.