460 status change unlikely

Published 1:29 pm Wednesday, November 4, 2015

By Diana McFarland

News editor

In an attempt to salvage plans to upgrade Route 460, Isle of Wight County officials have talked of changing categories with respect to project scoring under a new state law.

Rather than having projects scored primarily for reducing traffic congestion, Isle of Wight wants to request a change to the category that favors economic development more heavily, according to officials.

Both categories fall under House Bill 2, and the new legislation, signed into law last year, will be used to score improvements along Route 460. Those improvements include a controversial northern bypass around the town of Windsor.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

However, changing categories is not possible at the jurisdictional level, said Dawn Odom, VDOT planning and investment manager. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Windsor District Supervisor Dee Dee Darden said the county was led to believe by the Transportation Planning Organization that a request could be made to change categories. 

If projects in Isle of Wight are rated primarily for alleviating traffic congestion, then the county will never get a roads project, Darden said.

Under House Bill 2, localities are put in one of four areas and roads projects are scored according to the overriding criteria that characterize that area.

In Hampton Roads, alleviating congestion carries the most weight.

Isle of Wight officials have said they would want to switch to economic development as the criteria because the county is mostly rural.

However, Isle of Wight falls completely within the boundary of the Hampton Roads area, and for this region, it’s type A – traffic congestion, Odom said.

Other categories include accessibility, safety, environmental quality and land use.

Gloucester County was able to choose an area designation because only part of it falls in the Hampton Roads area, Odom said, adding that it choose Area D, which weights economic development the highest.

Odom said it’s up to the Commonwealth Transportation Board to allow modifications to the area type and it’s anticipated that those changes will not be made annually, Odom said.

Improvements to Route 460 have long been a part of the county’s push to develop its intermodal park — which was being developed in conjunction with the expansion of the Port of Virginia.  The proposed bypass would allow tractor trailers to avoid driving through the center of town but still have access to the intermodal park.

The deadline for the first round of HB 2 projects was Sept. 30 and Route 460 was not included. In all, 321 applications were submitted state-wide for a total of $6.95 billion in funding requests. In Hampton Roads, there were 45 applications for a total of $4.6 billion in funding.

Projects within Isle of Wight County that were submitted in this round include an extension of Nike Park Road from Reynolds Drive to Route 7 at $11. 6 million, and Routes 258 and 17 intersection improvements for $6.7 million.

Project scores are expected to be released in mid-January.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed transportation projects for Hampton Roads on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. at the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, 723 Woodlake Drive in Chesapeake. For more information on HB 2 visit virginiahb2.org. {/mprestriction}