No SMART Scale funding in Suffolk

Published 8:58 pm Monday, January 28, 2019

None of Suffolk’s proposed transportation projects appear in a proposed funding plan for the Hampton Roads region.

Suffolk submitted four projects for SMART Scale funding — Seaboard Coastline Trail Segment 1, Route 58 Arterial Preservation Plan Study Recommendations, North Suffolk Connector and Route 460 Safety and Operations Study Improvements.

“While they were not selected for funding in this round, we have the opportunity to revise the scope or project objectives in order to make for a more successful application of future SMART Scale applications,” said acting public works director L.J. Hansen. “Additionally, while SMART Scale is a significant funding tool and we desire to be competitive in the arena, there are other funding tools and grant opportunities.

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“Suffolk is well-engaged in the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, and while we are disappointed that we did not receive funding in this round, we will continue to look for all means available to advance the city’s transportation objectives.”

Earlier this month, the Virginia Department of Transportation released SMART Scale scores for all the submitted projects in the commonwealth, and staff also presented multiple funding scenarios to the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board.

The Hampton Roads funding scenario included 26 projects for other localities, and those 26 projects had the highest SMART Scale scores.

SMART Scale projects were ranked based on their benefit to the region and their cost.

During the scoring process, the projects were scored based on how they would benefit congestion mitigation, safety, accessibility, economic development, environment and land use.

Some of the subcategories included reduction in fatal and injury crashes, increase in access to jobs, potential to improve air quality and reduction in peak period delay.

Since Suffolk is in the Hampton Roads region, most benefit is focused on congestion mitigation.

Route 460 was ranked 49th out of 54 total projects in the Hampton Roads region. The project would add an 8-foot shoulder on both sides, 12-foot driving lanes, a 5-foot median and a 2-foot median barrier.

It was the lowest-ranking project that Suffolk submitted to VDOT’s SMART Scale program.

The Seaboard Coastline Trail Segment 1 project was ranked 28th, just two away from the list of 26 in the funding scenario. The project is estimated to cost almost $4.1 million. It would add bike paths from Moore Avenue to Suburban Drive.

The Route 58 Corridor Preservation Improvements project would cost $6.6 million, and it would add intersection improvements at Holy Neck and Lummis roads. Both intersections would receive a displaced left turn. The displaced left would remove the actual left turn and force drivers farther up to make a U-turn, resulting in a much safer and cost-effective traffic pattern.

The North Suffolk Connector Phase I would cost roughly $33.7 million to address an area stretching from Nansemond Parkway to Shoulders Hill Road, and it would allow citizens to avoid railroad crossings.

“Each project scored well in individual categories, but when accumulated and compared to project costs, the overall scores did not score above competing projects from other jurisdictions,” Hansen said.

The region’s six-year transportation plan will be finalized in June. Public hearings will be scheduled throughout the commonwealth to allow for public comment, but no dates are currently scheduled.