460 plan moves forward

Published 11:18 am Saturday, January 22, 2011


WINDSOR—The project to build a new Route 460 is one step closer to reality after the Commonwealth Transportation Board voted this week to move the project forward.

The board voted to advance each of the private proposals to build the road to the next phase of the process. In addition, the board approved a number of recommendations from an independent review panel that has been working on the project.

Southampton County Supervisor Ron West, who represents the Berlin-Ivor District, remains opposed to the project, which will take land from citizens and disturb farmland, burial sites, waterways and animals.

“It makes no sense to me that this is taking place,” he said.

The new road is the top transportation priority of Gov. Bob McDonnell. Proponents say a better, safer Route 460 will increase freight movement — and therefore the region’s economic development — as well as improve the military’s strategic connectivity, improve travel safety along the corridor and make a safer, less flood-prone evacuation route for Hampton Roads.

Three private companies have submitted proposals under the state’s Public Private Transportation Act. The proposals will place significant tolls on vehicles traveling the road and will require public subsidies, the transportation board found.

The companies — 460 Partners, LLC, Cintra Infraestructuras, S.A., and MultiModal Solutions, LLC — each propose to build the road at a cost of between $1.49 billion and $2.72 billion.

The three companies now will be invited to submit more detailed proposals.

The new road will be a 55-mile, four-lane, divided, limited-access highway between Suffolk and Petersburg. It will be built roughly parallel to the current Route 460.

The independent review panel found that none of the three private companies will be able to build the road without a sizable public contribution. It recommended the Commonwealth Transportation Board determine the maximum amount the state will provide and include that in the request for detailed proposals.

All the proposals call for tolls on the new road, ranging from $3.85 for motorcycles to $75 for tandem trailers. Two-axle vehicle tolls range from $5.94 to $11, and would increase with time.

In return for paying money, drivers could get to go faster. One proposal suggests a speed limit of 75 miles per hour.

The resolution approved by the board also calls for a “robust public involvement process” in the continuation of the project.

“I hope that someone will be in a position to say it’s an economic boon and it will be, but I doubt it,” West said.