VDOT ignored IW’s wishes

Published 1:52 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2015

County support for plan dissolving

By Diana McFarland

News editor

Isle of Wight’s steadfast support for a bypass around Windsor appears to be dissolving after county officials learned that VDOT ignored all of its suggestions for the Route 460 project.

The county’s requests, which included access to Route 258, were given to VDOT in exchange for the Board’s support of the controversial project, and which led to widespread criticism.

Route 460 was also a significant campaign issue for Windsor Supervisor Dee Dee Darden, who continued to support the project and bypass despite opposition that may have contributed her defeat by Joel Acree. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

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Meanwhile, the town of Windsor has remained resolute in its disapproval of the proposed Route 460 improvements and proposed northern bypass around the town.

County staff will recommend Thursday that the Board write a “strongly worded letter of opposition” to VDOT and the Commonwealth Transportation Board and emphasize the importance of the requested access points, according to a staff report.

The Board had formally supported the project in February, which includes a much disliked northern bypass around the town of Windsor, in order to get the needed access at Route 258 and the intermodal park, to show it was willing to cooperate with VDOT as well as being told it was “this route or nothing,” by Isle of Wight County Administrator Anne Seward.

Staff also recommends the Board express its disappointment in “their complete and total lack of communications and collaborative decision making on this project,” according to a staff report.

Although the interchange at Route 258 was eliminated, the commitment to a full interchange at Routes 240/58 in Suffolk remains in the plans, according to Caleb Parks with VDOT’s environmental division.

Other recent changes to the plans include:

•Reducing property impacts near Old Myrtle Road and in the vicinity of Deer Path Trail.

•A new intersection connecting the existing Route 460 with the new Route 460 immediately west of Antioch and Cut Thru roads, crossing over Route 258 with no interchange and a new interchange east of Windsor.

•A bridge to maintain access to the Perry Minnow Farm.

•Relocating the Ennis Pond crossings east and west of Shiloh Drive and relocating the Route 258 crossing to minimize and avoid impacts to wetlands and streams.

The proposed Route 460 improvements extend 17 miles from the Route 460/58 interchange in Suffolk to just west of Zuni. The project includes a 12-mile four-lane bypass around the town of Windsor and a bridge over the Blackwater River to alleviate long-standing flooding problems.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently conducting a public comment period through Jan. 5. If the project receives a permit from the Corps, it must be scored under the new House Bill 2, which evaluates transportation projects using objective criteria. In Hampton Roads, alleviating congestion is the top priority for any new road projects. If the proposed Route 460 fails under HB 2, it will be cancelled, according to VDOT.

Improving Route 460 is expected to address three main concerns — increasing capacity for truck traffic coming from an expanded Port of Virginia, providing an enhanced evacuation route for Southside Hampton Roads and increase safety by separating regional and local traffic. {/mprestriction}