Questions arise from U.S. 460 meeting

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, November 5, 2014

To the Editor:

On Wednesday night I attended the Wakefield meeting for the U.S. 460 project. The first thing I noticed was the large number of well-heeled VDOT spokesmen milling around. Although their overwhelming numbers allowed them to isolate every person and address their individual concerns, it prevented those concerns from being heard by the rest of the group. I’d like to take the opportunity to share some of those concerns here.

One man expressed his doubt about the accuracy of the snazzy brochure outlining the official options for the project, which claimed Alternative 1 (the original full scale bypass) was only going to displace five farms. The spokesman dealing with him simply said, “Yes, that’s right.” The man pressed further, saying, “You’re telling me that along this entire route from Suffolk to Petersburg, only five farms are going to be affected? I think someone is falsifying some information.” When he said that, three more spokesmen descended on him and corralled him out of earshot. I asked him afterwards what the official answer to his question was. He said, “They told me they only consider a farm ‘displaced’ if the entire thing is destroyed outright, buildings and all. They don’t understand the first thing about the effect of cutting a rectangular farm in half with a bypass.”

I asked a few questions myself and I’d like to share those answers with you as well. I asked about the rumor that Cintra was the company who would be doing the work. Cintra is a Spanish company and, with the economy in the condition it’s in, it seemed less than ideal that taxpayer money for this project and the tolls that come with it will be shipped not only outside of the state of Virginia, but the United States altogether. The spokesman confirmed that US Mobility Partners, which is a hodgepodge of Spanish companies with Spanish conglomerates Ferrovial Agroman and Cintra at the very top, did indeed win the bid for the original bypass and if that is the option they elect to use, they will get the work, the money and the tolls. If you’d like to learn more about this company, Google “the trans-Texas corridor.”

I also asked the spokesman if he’d ever tried to leave Washington, D.C. on a Friday afternoon. He asked why I wanted to know. I said, “Because if you’ve ever done that, you know we don’t have a traffic problem. Those people have a traffic problem.” He said simply, “Well, we’re working on that, too.”

Lastly, I asked who stood to benefit from this. He said there would be “economic development” in the form of increased traffic from the ports. The more I’ve considered that statement, the more it seems that the interests of wealthy businessmen are being put above the interests of regular folks who’ve lived here for years, sometimes generations. I can’t say that I know the exact nature of the goods that would be fast tracked from the ports to Petersburg, but if they are mostly low cost, foreign made merchandise, I don’t see how that is so great for our domestic economy.

I’d like to invite everyone to do the only thing they can: go online and vote for the option you’d most like to see done. One of the choices is to do nothing, but I was told that isn’t really an option at all, so I wouldn’t waste my vote on that if I were you. On you can see all the alternatives under the “Alternatives Under Study” heading. No matter which option you choose, take advantage of the chance to make your voice heard on this issue at

Brad Barrett