News | January 18, 2017

Destructive Route 460 project fails to make the grade

A wasteful and destructive new highway proposal in Virginia may have reached the end of the line. The preliminary scores released yesterday under Virginia’s new system used to prioritize transportation projects for funding, called “SMART SCALE,” confirm what SELC has long argued—there are much better ways to spend the $450 million it would cost to build a new Route 460 in rural Tidewater.

For years, SELC has advocated against the project, which includes building expansive new bypasses around the existing rural highway and its communities, impacting numerous wetlands, streams, and farms. Instead, SELC has called for less costly and far less damaging upgrades to the existing route to address flooding and safety issues.

“This is exactly the type of unneccessarily costly and destructive project that the prioritization process is intended to weed out,” said Senior Attorney Trip Pollard. “We hope the low ranking will finally put an end to the Commonwealth’s pursuit of this boondoggle, and we can now move forward with planning to improve the existing route and other statewide priorities.”

Following a series of public meetings, Virginia’s transportation board will take SMART SCALE scoring and recommendation into account in June when making its final decision on whether to fund the project, along with others from around the state. If funded, the $450 million cost of the new Route 460 would exhaust more than one-third of all state money available to fund new projects statewide over the next few years.

Read the Virginian-Pilot coverage of the latest developments here.