Richmond, Va. — The Virginia Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have identified an alternative that appears to be the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative to improve the U.S. 460 corridor in southeastern Virginia.
The recommended Preferred Alternative would improve 17 miles of U.S. 460 from Suffolk to west of Zuni. A new four-lane divided highway would be built from the U.S. 460/58 interchange in Suffolk to west of Windsor. From west of Windsor to west of Zuni, the existing U.S. 460 would be upgraded to a four-lane divided highway and include a new bridge across the Blackwater River to eliminate long standing flooding problems.
"Secretary Layne has clearly stated his commitment to finding effective transportation solutions that minimize impacts to wetlands," said Colonel Paul Olsen, commander of the Corps' Norfolk District. "The Federal Highway Administration, VDOT and the Corps cooperatively developed a draft Supplemental EIS that ensures environmental resources are identified and fully evaluated against a full range of alternatives. I am confident that with the additional analysis and upcoming public comment periods required by law, VDOT will develop a project that balances the economic and transportation needs of the Region with our responsibility to protect our natural and aquatic resources."
Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne added, “I would like to thank Colonel Olsen, the Corps, and the FHWA for working hand-in-hand with VDOT to come up with a recommended alternative that can move into the permitting process. We still have a lot of work to do, but it is important that we continue to work together to improve safety and hurricane evacuation with an alternative that impacts the fewest possible acres of wetlands.”
“VDOT will continue to take a methodical and deliberative approach with the Corps and the FHWA,” said VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “Engaging with our federal partners is critical as we work through the complexities of environmental work and project development.”
The project cost is estimated to be between $375 million and $425 million.
VDOT will present the recommended preferred alternative to the Commonwealth Transportation Board this Tuesday, Jan. 13, during their workshop in Richmond.
Summary of the recommended Preferred Alternative:
- Wetland impacts – 52 acres
- Displacements – 22, including 15 residential properties, 3 commercial properties, 3 farms and one non-profit property
- Safety – 41 percent lower than the no build alternative
- Evacuation capacity – 13,400 vehicles per hour with seven lanes of contraflow versus the no build alternative
- Mobility – improves safety and mobility by separating local and regional traffic
VDOT, the FHWA and the Corps developed a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) that evaluated alternatives to improve the U.S. 460 corridor. The public had an opportunity to review and comment on the SEIS last fall. Three public hearings were held and more than 520 comments were received. The recommended Preferred Alternative came from information included and evaluated in the Draft SEIS.
For more background information, go to www.route460project.org.