Richardson: 460 back on table

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

WINDSOR — Efforts to improve Route 460 may not be completely shelved.

Windsor Mayor Rita Richardson, in an intergovernmental meeting June 6 with members of the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors, said that VDOT was again looking at making some improvements to Route 460 between Suffolk and Windsor.

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VDOT plans to host a meeting about Route 460 in July to gather public input, said VDOT spokesperson Paula Miller.

Richardson said she had met with VDOT officials where a discussion was held about what Suffolk and Windsor would want when it comes to improving Route 460.

Richardson said one option was to create a divided four-lane highway through Windsor, which she discouraged. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

A divided four-lane highway through Windsor would be “pretty devastating to us,” she said.

Miller said VDOT is collecting data and that the corridor from just west of the 58 bypass in Suffolk to just west of the Windsor corporate limits will be reviewed for possible safety improvements recommendations.

“A center turn lane in Windsor in not on or off the table at this point,” she said.

Richardson said she favors the option posed by the Walter Kulash study, commissioned by the Southern Environmental Law Center, which called for a center turn lane through downtown Windsor.

In addition to the turn lane, the Kulash study called for narrower vehicle lanes and realigning South Court and Church streets to make a conventional four-way intersection with one signal.

A new plan would need to show how it improves safety, Richardson said, adding that the six-way intersection is a problem.

However, the center turn lane could be used as the fifth lane in the event of an evacuation due to a hurricane, Richardson added.

Richardson said the new plan would go through the next year’s round of projects with the state but added, “this could take years.”

Isle of Wight County has lobbied VDOT for a traffic signal at Route 460 and Old Mill Road where Keurig Green Mountain is located, but so far the level of traffic doesn’t reach that level, said Isle of Wight County Administrator Randy Keaton.

A plan to improve Route 460, which has undergone numerous iterations over the last decade, has cost more than $300 million without a single shovel of dirt being turned.

The last plan, which was cancelled in January, called for a four-lane bypass to run north around the town of Windsor.

At one time, Route 460 was to be a 55-mile high speed, tolled, limited access highway running from Suffolk to Petersburg — and financed through a public-private partnership. The highway was originally to run south of the town of Windsor, but those plans were scrapped due to excessive wetlands impacts.

When Gov. Terry McAuliffe came into office in 2014, he decided to review those plans in light of other transportation projects in the state.

The Route 460 plans were shortened to 16 miles — from the Route 58 interchange in Suffolk to just west of Zuni, and included the bypass, as well as a bridge at Zuni to alleviate flooding.

Those plans met with stiff opposition from the town of Windsor, and eventually the Board of Supervisors withdrew its support when VDOT failed to provide requested interchanges.

Despite the lack of support, the state went ahead and completed a supplemental environmental impact study, at a cost of about $12 million, and obtained the necessary permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The final step was scoring under Smart Scale, where it ultimately failed.  {/mprestriction}