Virginia transportation officials have announced that the state has scrapped plans to build a costly and destructive new highway parallel to the existing Route 460 in the Tidewater region. Instead, the Virginia Department of Transportation will pursue upgrades to the existing highway—precisely the approach that SELC has advocated for a decade as the best option to address the needs of this rural corridor.
"We are pleased that this wasteful and destructive proposal seems to have finally reached the end of the line,” said Trip Pollard, Director of SELC’s Land and Community Program. “And we are glad that the state is shifting its focus to the needs of the existing highway and its communities. This is long overdue."
For years, SELC and localities along the corridor raised serious concerns with the proposed new highway, which included building expansive new bypasses around the existing rural highway and its communities. The proposal would have harmed numerous wetlands, streams, and farms. Its $450 million price tag also would have exhausted more than one-third of all state money available to fund new projects statewide over the next few years.
The final blow for the proposal came with the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s recent decision to not include the project in the state’s six-year funding plan following its poor score under Virginia’s new system to prioritize transportation projects for funding.
“The prioritization process clearly showed that the proposed new Route 460 simply doesn’t stack up when its considerable cost, limited benefits, and severe impacts are compared to other transportation needs,” said SELC Staff Attorney Travis Pietila.