Archived Story

Group appeals 460 plan

Published 11:01am Friday, December 27, 2013

MATTHEW WARD/STAFF WRITER
Matthew.ward@suffolknewsherald.com

SUFFOLK—Representatives from nine groups opposed to the new Route 460 have put their names on a letter to governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, calling on him to halt the project immediately.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club-Virginia Chapter, Virginia Conservation Network, The Piedmont Environmental Council, The Coalition for Smarter Growth, Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program, Partnership for Smarter Growth and Wetlands Watch sent the letter to McAuliffe on Dec. 18.

“The proposed new U.S. Route 460 is one project that does not make sense economically or environmentally, and we agree with your recent statements about the wisdom of halting further spending on this project pending careful consideration of its merits,” the groups wrote.

“We believe the new Route 460 proposal is clearly not in the best interests of the commonwealth, and therefore urge you to take the further step of terminating this project.”

The groups claim the limited-access toll road would run parallel to an existing 460 that is underutilized to begin with, and note the $1.4-billion cost hits taxpayers for almost $1.2 billion while the rest comes from tolls.

Taxpayers will have to pay to maintain both new and existing roads, they say, and the project “would cause significant environmental harm, yet it would do little to address the critical transportation needs of the Hampton Roads region.”

Money earmarked for the project would be better spent on upgrading the existing Route 460, rail in the 460 corridor, Interstate 64 or U.S. Route 58, building the I-564 to I-664 connector, or extending light rail to Virginia Beach, they say.

Also, transportation officials should consider “buying down” the cost of coming tolls on the Midtown and Downtown tunnels, the groups write.

The letter goes on to cite a recent sizeable expansion in estimated wetlands impacts, describing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ concerns regarding the environmental cost versus public benefit, as well as mentioning impacts on farms and open space, habitat of endangered species and air and water quality.

The project would “spur inefficient development along its lengthy route,” the groups wrote.

Arguments for the project proffered by the Virginia Department of Transportation and the outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell, including freight and economic development, traffic and safety, hurricane evacuation and military connectivity, are criticized in the letter.

“Every one of the justifications for the proposed new Route 460 can be more effectively accomplished at lower cost to taxpayers by investing in other alternatives,” the groups state.

Finally, the groups call upon McAuliffe to request the McDonnell administration halt work on the project both ongoing and planned, including engineering, design and right-of-way acquisition.

“We hope you will agree that this project is unnecessary and would waste scarce resources that should instead be invested in projects that can do far more to address Hampton Roads’ critical transportation needs,” the letter concludes.

  • Liberty With Responsibility

    Hey, I lost my front yard and all my ancient cedar trees to US Hwy 258 widening, and now the highway is about 24 feet from my front door. I feel your pain, but that is the way major highways go–always expanding. I got over it. Sorry, I’ve walked a ways in those mocassins already.

    Suggest Removal

  • mbrya023

    People say “Oh just widen 460, then no one will be bothered.” How about all of us that live along 460? It has already expanded into our front yards. We don’t have more land to give it. It isn’t “just a few feet” when you already have cars that close to your house. That said, I do not support the “New 460″ either. I see the road out of my front window. There are no traffic jams, no backups, and no need for wider lanes. Leave it as is. I am sick of those of us who live in rural settings being seen as expendable by our government.

    Suggest Removal

  • Liberty With Responsibility

    I agree with this article. They keep trying to justify this project, by talking about all the unbearable traffic on 460. Bull! 460 is underutilized. Just widen the old road a few feet, and put a jersey-wall down the middle, and call it a day. Job done! This is jobs program, for out-of-state contractors, and if they finance it, it will be some boondoggle for a select few to earn outrageous interest rates. Stop this project!

    Suggest Removal

    • Va Native American

      Great idea Liberty. This whole “new 460″ idea has been just a big waste of time and money. Those who were pushing for it haven’t even taken into consideration the effects it will have on farmers, family homes, and of course, nature and our wetlands.

      Suggest Removal

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