Pat Robertson Can Move Hurricanes, But Can He Move the FTA?

Blenheim, the 500-acre, mixed-use development project proposed by Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting network, has hit a speed bump: The Federal Highway Administration has rejected an interchange on Interstate 64 that would provide interstate access to the development. Deirdre Fernandes with the Virginian-Pilot has the details.

Federal engineers, writes Fernandes, aren’t convinced that the interchange would alleviate increased traffic resulting from the new development and the already congested interchanges at nearby Indian River Road and Greenbrier Parkway.

The federal agency also disputes VDOT’s projection that traffic in the area will increase only 3 to 5 percent by 2028 without the Blenheim project. Federal planners estimate a 20 to 25 percent growth in traffic, and under those circumstances the new interchange would cause gridlock on I-64, [FTA official Michael] Canavan said.

“In 20 years you don’t want to basically have a parking lot out there,” Canavan said. “From a design standpoint, it’s a tough place to put an interchange.”

CBN officials insist that the interchange eventually will win approval. The parallel road system suggested by the feds would cost $100 million — nearly $38 million more than the interchange, said CBN consultant Lowell Morse.

Update: Lowell Morse, the CBN consultant, has apologized for characterizing a FTA official as a “stumbling block” to the interchange project.

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7 responses to “Pat Robertson Can Move Hurricanes, But Can He Move the FTA?”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    who would pay for the interchange?

  2. Jim Bacon Avatar

    CBN lobbied for federal funding to pay for a modest fraction of the Interchange; a CDA would pay for the rest.

  3. Maybe if we pray hard enough, the Lord will provide an interchange.

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I heard the Lord has been very busy lately… forgiving those that have gone astray.


  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Seriously – if CBN was going to pay for most of the cost of the interchange (I’d like to see this in print) – then you still have the problem that FHWA (FTA by the way is the Federal Transit Agency) – alluded to – which is what happens to that traffic once it gets on the interstate.

    And this aspect is the same one with respect to Loudoun’s prospective 30K new homes – where the developers would proffer most all of the road infrastructure needed by THE DEVELOPMENT itself and adjacent roads but not the connecting roads to major regional arteries.

    THIS is where the here and now are at.

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that from now on – developers will pay the full costs of the local roads needed for new development.

    That leaves us with what will happen to the Regional roads which are already close to gridlock during peak hour.

    Unless the air in HR and NoVA is significantly cleaner to the point where they have fallen below the cap thresholds – then ordinary roads that add capacity are not in the cards.

    That leaves us with congestion-priced toll roads and/or transit.

    They cannot keep CBN (or any other developer) from building to meet inevitable population and job increases so where does that leave us?

    What is the way forward? In my mind – this requires some leadership from Mr. Chichester and Howell and the Va GA.

  6. That leaves us with congestion-priced toll roads and/or transit.

    Or building and creating jobs somewhere besides Northern VA.

    I don’t have any problem with congestion priced toll roads that are required to pay their own way, but I think transit should be held to the same standard.

    Instead, what is going to happen is that toll roads will pay their own way, AND pay for transit over runs.

    I have said that I regard transportation as a system, and therefore we should pay for it as a system. IF it turns out that transit is really a better and less expensive portion of the system for those that use it, then I have no objection to supporting it an extra amount to the extent that the EXTRA benefits can be shown and measured.

    Where I get off the wagon is when the claims for transit benefits are largely political, unproven, and unmeasured. I simply don’t believe all the wild claims that are made on transits behalf.

    I do believe that if transit had to do all the jobs to all the places that cars do, it would bankrupt us. I do believe that cars cannot provide all the service that transit does in some areas. If we tried to work the problem that way it would bankrupt and destroy the areas we are trying to serve.

    Somewhere in between is the answer we are looking for, but we iwll never find it by waving the transit flag, only.

    It is going to require leadership by Chchester and Howell, and forbearance by those that think there is only one answer.

  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “Robertson lobbied for and received $10.8 million from Congress to build the interchange, even though it was not on the region’s long-range list of road projects or transportation funding priorities. The interchange recently made it onto the list, while several other projects, including plans to widen I-64 in Chesapeake, were cut.”

    now I understand…. somebody got Mr. Robertson an earmark… and the way that earmarks work… they don’t increase overall funding.. rather they allocate a portion of the total money to a specific project – at the expense of some other project.

    I don’t know what I hate the most… giving money to ANY developer but especially the fundamentalists… or letting VDOT decide priorities per their usual methods…. which often have an odor also.

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