SELC Responds to Work Being Halted on Proposed Route 460 Project
The Southern Environmental Law Center released the following statement today by Trip Pollard, SELC Senior Attorney and Director of the Land and Community Program, in response to an announcement from Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne that the state has ordered its contractor to stop all work on the proposed new US Route 460 project pending completion of an important federal environmental review:
This announcement is another step in the right direction by the McAuliffe Administration to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on this $1.4 billion boondoggle.
The Administration seems to be taking a hard look at this project, and the more you look the less there is to like.
The proposed new Route 460 is a wasteful and destructive project heading nowhere fast.
Despite continuous warnings from the Corps of Engineers that it may not be able to issue necessary environmental permits in light of the project’s severe environmental impacts and the availability of less-damaging alternatives, the McDonnell Administration recklessly pushed this project forward, signing a contract and lavishing roughly $200 million in taxpayer money on a project that may never come to fruition. Nearly all of this spending came after a February 2013 letter by the Corps of Engineers warning that VDOT was proceeding at its own risk.
SELC has long opposed this destructive and wasteful project, which would destroy more wetlands than any other project in Virginia since the Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972, yet provide little traffic benefit given how few vehicles currently travel the Route 460 corridor. Instead, we have argued for commonsense solutions that would better maximize our investment in the existing Route 460 corridor with focused safety and operational improvements.
We hope that this decision will help to ensure a fair and unbiased review in the upcoming Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) that is being prepared, and we believe that if this review is done properly, it will clearly show that improving the existing Route 460 is the best approach to address the needs of this corridor and protect the quality of life of its residents.