The Route 460 dilemma

Published 10:10 am Friday, June 19, 2015

In my few years in the political arena, I have encountered very few issues completely right or wrong. Most have opposing merits. The proposed Route 460 17-mile bypass is no exception, as there are points to be made on each side.

On the supportive side, it will make the old 460 safer simply by shifting the majority of the traffic to the bypass. Anyone living in this area over the years is aware of this 55 mph four-lane road with no turn lane and no shoulders. It is simply a dangerous route that will continue to be with no upgrades.

It will decrease driving time from Route 58 bypass to west of Zuni for both trucks and pass-through vehicles.

It does address a potential road block at Zuni due to rising flood waters as shown in past storms, and keeps that particular area above water if hurricane evacuation is deemed necessary.

It is not a definite at this point of the process, but it is likely to provide a connection to the Shirley T. Holland Industrial Park just outside Windsor, thus providing connectivity to a vital future economic engine of the county.

As to the negatives, this is a much-reduced version of the original project of 55 miles, thus the 17 miles falls short of the original goals of the initial version. There are flooding concerns and bottleneck concerns once this route enters into the old 460 west of Zuni. There are no plans at present to address these challenges.

The cost is very high for such a stretch of road, with estimates in the $400 million dollar range, or around $23 million dollars a mile.

Though this road is sometimes in some places congested, it is far below the congestion level in other parts of the commonwealth.

It will have a negative economic impact on the town of Windsor due to those businesses that depend on drive-by traffic and town visibility.

And lastly, these costs should be taken into consideration. The Bosselmans, the Perrys, the Williams, the Gwaltneys, the Braswells, the Stuarts, the Crockers, Maranatha Church, the Parsons, the Newsoms and others. These are not simply statistics. Nor are they only names on a map. These are families rooted in both the soil and their communities whose lives will be permanently disrupted by this project. They are multi-generational in nature, finding value in “place.” There is no adequate monetary compensation to replace what they stand to lose.

Do the plusses outweigh the negatives? Are the benefits of such magnitude to justify such signigicant losses?

In this case and for this project, I think not.

Some have said it is impossible for those in the political arena to admit error. I disagree. It is not impossible, only difficult. I once thought this project had merit, but now believe I used poor judgment. What we have now, though with certain challenges, is far less intrusive, costly and disruptive. I would suggest to the decision-makers to consider dropping this project as it now stands.

REX ALPHIN is the chairman of the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors. He represents the Carrsville District. He can be reached at