County’s Route 460 proposals score poorly in Smart Scale
Published 8:53 am Saturday, February 2, 2019
Two proposals Isle of Wight County’s Transportation Department submitted for state funding in 2018 to improve the Route 460 corridor in Windsor have scored poorly in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale prioritization program.
Smart Scale is VDOT’s formula for evaluating the cost versus benefit of proposed roadway improvement projects. In January, the Commonwealth Transportation Board released preliminary Smart Scale scores for over 400 proposed transportation projects submitted last summer.
The first of the county’s two proposed Route 460 improvements would add turn lanes to the north and south legs of the highway’s intersection with Route 258, also known as Prince Boulevard within Windsor’s town limits. It would also add sidewalks on the north side of the intersection to connect with existing sidewalks on Route 460.
This particular proposal, which requested $3,234,936 in state funding, scored 1.202 on Smart Scale, and was ranked 32nd out of 54 proposals submitted for VDOT’s Hampton Roads District. Statewide, the project was ranked 269th out of the over 400 proposals. By comparison, the No. 1 ranked proposal in both the state and the Hampton Roads District — Lafayette Street signal and pedestrian improvements in Williamsburg — received a Smart Scale score of 65.742 and only requested $91,000 in state funding. The higher a project’s Smart Scale score and the lower its cost, the more likely it is to receive funding.
The second Route 460 proposal proposed removing the leg of Bank Street that extends from its intersection with E. N. and W. Street to its intersection with Route 460, turning what is a six-way intersection into a five-way intersection. This project, which requested $2,153,180 in state funding, received a Smart Scale score of 0.188. It was ranked 51st in the Hampton Roads District and 402nd statewide.
A third county proposal, which did not concern Route 460, had requested $8,732,351 in state funding to reconstruct Broadwater Road (State Route 620,) which runs from the outskirts of Smithfield to the county’s border with Southampton County and the town of Ivor. This project received a Smart Scale score of 0.186 and was ranked 52nd in the district and 403rd in the state. The reconstruction was not projected to add any additional capacity to the road.
According to VDOT, transportation project applications are submitted biennially by localities, regional entities and metropolitan organizations, and scored based on a variety of factors, including safety improvements, congestion reduction, accessibility, land use, environmental quality and economic development. The CTB will announce final funding decisions in June on which projects will be selected for funding in the state’s Six-Year Improvement Program. Projects selected will receive full funding through construction.
“We’re disappointed that we did not score higher relative to other projects around the state and within the region, but we still think those are worthwhile projects, so we will look for other opportunities to resubmit or look for other opportunities to get funding for those projects,” said Don Robertson, assistant county administrator and county spokesman.
One of the challenges in securing VDOT funding, Robertson said, was that the Smart Scale process scores projects in comparison to others.
“Projects in smaller communities and rural communities are always going to be challenged,” he said. “You don’t have the congestion issues that more urban communities are likely to have. That will continue to be a challenge for us, unless the criteria for Smart Scale projects changes.”