Dem Congressmen Urge Delay of U.S. 460

In a letter dated yesterday, one day before the McDonnell administration announced the closing of the $1.4 billion U.S. 460 upgrade, Virginia’s three Democratic congressmen urged state and local officials to delay implementation of the project  to make sure it is “properly viewed and analyzed.”

The tolled highway between Suffolk and Petersburg would carry only 8,700 vehicles a day when it opens in 2018 but would have substantial impact on “valuable wetlands and other natural resources,” states the letter, signed by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-11; Bobby Scott, D-3rd; and Jim Moran, D-8th.

VDOT’s underwhelming traffic projections for the project are of particular concern considering the transportation funding challenges we face at both the Federal and State levels. A decision to divert a significant portion of limited transportation funding to build a new Route 460, which has such low traffic congestion that it twice failed to generate private sector interest in constructing and operating the toll road in exchange for revenue, must be examined in a thorough and transparent fashion.

We believe that Virginia’s scarce transportation dollars must be prioritized and directed toward the Commonwealth’s most critical transportation needs, such as financing the third crossing of the Hampton Roads, reducing the proposed excessive tolls at the Midtown and Downtown tunnels in Norfolk, expanding I-64 between Richmond and Newport News, and numerous critical project in Northern Virginia.

The Army Corps of Engineers has not yet granted the permits for the project and “numerous” state legislators and local officials have raised questions about the project, noted Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “Now, with the Congressional inquiry, there may be additional and much needed scrutiny of the project, the contracts for which hopefully have contingency clauses allowing the state to cancel or withdraw from the contract.”

Bacon’s bottom line: Do three Democratic congressmen and the Army Corps of Engineers answering to a Democratic Obama administration have enough pull to delay the project? I don’t know. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

— JAB

10 Responses to Dem Congressmen Urge Delay of U.S. 460

  1. re: ” Do three Democratic congressmen and the Army Corps of Engineers answering to a Democratic Obama administration have enough pull to delay the project? I don’t know. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.”

    would it be any different if the Corps were “answering” to Bush or Romney?

    I think it’s interesting that you never fail to take back-door pot shots at the Obama Administration.

    DO you have an evidence that the Corp has acted differently under his administration that previous?

    shame. shame. Jim Bacon!

    What are you doing? Earning your Merit Badge for partisan politics?

    ;-)

    • Larry, Larry, Larry …

      “would it be any different if the Corps were “answering” to Bush or Romney?”

      Yes. Because McDonnell is a Republican. If McDonnell wanted a political future he’d heed the advice of fellow Republicans. However, he can safely ignore Democrats unless they “have enough pull”.

      Realism not partisanism.

  2. no no no.

    I’m asking why JIM thought the Corp has something going on with Obama….

    Is the idea that Obama is sic’ing the Corp on McDonnell?

    please tell me this is not the “plausible presumption”.

    • C’mon, Larry…. You have three Democratic congressmen, no Republican congressman, signing this letter. Need I spell it out for you? These guys obviously have more pull in the White House occupied by a Democratic president (whose name happens to be Barack Obama) than McDonnell does. Also, it’s safe to say that the head of the Army Corp of Engineers is an Obama appointee. Does it stretch credulity to suggest that a political appointee might be more responsive to the demands of his fellow party members than someone who was an appointee of a president of a different party? Really, am I being partisan here — or am I just acknowledging the realities of power?

      • Geeze Jim – do you think the Dems are going to get Obama to kill the Cville Bypass also?

        We’ve become so politicized that now we believe that organizations like the Army Corp are going to ignore the law and regulations and do the bidding of the current POTUS.

        Unless we have some specific evidence to back up the assertion – I’m calling the penalty flag on this – Unsportsmanlike Conduct – unbecoming a jim Bacon.

        THERE! TAKE THAT!

        • I haven’t seen three Dem congressmen sign a letter wanting to kill the Bypass. If there were such a letter, I’d hold the same opinion.

          If it were three Republican congressmen signing a letter and Bush were president, I’d say the same thing.

  3. In an era when Congress is teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff it’s great to see three Democratic Congressmen whining about a highway entirely within the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    Meanwhile, the Democrats in The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond (who are actually paid to consider issues like Rt 460) are strangely silent.

    Where is the high wattage incandescent light bulb of genius known as Dick Saslaw on this issue?

  4. what you ought to be believing is that new location roads require the concurrence of the resource agencies like the Army Corp – no matter who is POTUS.

    While other states like NC include the Corps and other resource agencies in the early scoping of the prospective locations, VDOT has over the years gotten into the habit of ignoring them until final approvals are needed and characterizing the Corps and other resource agencies as “holding up the process”.

    Jim thinks this has something to do with who is POTUS. I won’t say never because some very controversial proposals (beyond just roads) can indeed become politicized (like the Keystone Pipeline) but in general, the Corps are usually not manipulated by the POTUS.

    What the 3 Congressman were doing were essentially complaining about the back door/end around analysis that VDOT is using to evade and avoid other agencies input.

    Some say that the resource agencies these days essentially act as “blockers” to new projects …. but usually don’t tie them to a particular POTUS.

  5. Oh please — the play is obvious. In Northern Virginia the angle will be that money that could have been used to lower tolls in that region is being wasted on a pet project for the Governor, and Bobby Scott represents many of the neighborhoods in an uproar over the tolls across Hampton Roads. He will say the same –those TTF dollars should have come to my district. It has nothing to do with POTUS — but you will hear this drumbeat as we pick a G-O-V-E-R-N-O-R. Nobody cares about the wetlands — this will be regional suspicions and jealousies whipped to a frenzy, in other words, standard Virginia politics.

    Might also become yet another issue against several of the Republican congressmen, although I don’t see how. Certainly you can’t expect Forbes or Riegel to oppose something the Port of Virginia believes in.

    Don’t forget the tax credit package that the Governor fought so hard for last couple of sessions to create incentives for warehouses and other investments related to the port in the same region this road will run through. There is a plan. It might not work but there is a plan.

  6. re: ” There is a plan. It might not work but there is a plan.”

    yeah..but what about the Army Corp conspiracy with the POTUS?

    ;-)

    p.s. I LOVE the distractions that the anti-Obama folks dream up right and left.

    at some point I fully expect Obama to also get blamed for the “heartbreak of psoriasis” .

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