Another sacrifice?

Published 9:37 am Saturday, December 25, 2010

Southampton County Supervisor Ronnie West is wise to question the impact of a proposed limited-access toll road parallel to Route 460 between Suffolk and Petersburg.

What is envisioned as an economic-development boon and important transportation artery for metropolitan Hampton Roads and Greater Richmond isn’t necessarily peaches and cream for Southampton County, as West recognizes.

During a discussion at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, West lamented the negative effects on merchants along Route 460 in rural Southampton County if traffic diverts to the new highway.

Southampton will be asked to make such sacrifices for the overall good of the region and state. That seems to be a recurring theme for state and federal politicians these days, evidenced by the proposal to build an Outlying Landing Field in Western Tidewater for training of military jet pilots and, more recently, the Navy’s plan to use Franklin Municipal Airport to train turboprop pilots on touch-and-go landings. In both cases, Western Tidewater would sacrifice some quality of life to protect military jobs — and their economic impact — in Hampton Roads.

The Route 460 toll road is more palatable on the surface because of its potentially huge impact on job creation in Windsor. The Isle of Wight County town is seen by Gov. Bob McDonnell and others as a hot spot for economic development in the decades ahead, and the new highway would almost certainly boost those prospects. Southampton County residents would get their fair share of the jobs created.

Still, Southampton officials are smart to contemplate all of the new highway’s ramifications. We commend West for raising the first questions.