Uh, Oh, Irresistible Force Meets Immovable Object

The $1.4 billion U.S. 460 Connector has hit a roadblock: The Army Corps of Engineers is not ready to sign off on the route selected by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), reports Dave Forster with the Virginian-Pilot.

VDOT’s proposed route for the Interstate-grade highway, which would parallel the existing U.S. 460, is not the best option to minimize damage on wetlands, and the Corps will not permit the project until the matter is resolved. Among three routes examined, the Corps contends, the least environmentally damaging would be one that utilized the existing highway and added bypasses around several small communities.

But VDOT counters that the Corps’ plan is not financially feasible because it would be impractical to toll. Tolls account for more than $200 million of anticipated funding for the project. Moreover, VDOT’s route would offer improved safety, greater travel time savings and an additional hurricane evacuation route.

VDOT had planned to purchase wetlands credits from private mitigation banks to offset the wetlands destroyed by the project, according to Corps correspondence, but the Corps had not yet determined whether they would be deemed acceptable compensation.

VDOT has selected 460 Mobility Partners, comprised of Ferrovial Agroman, S.A. and American Infrastructure, to design and build the road. Design and right-of-way work on the 55-mile highway is scheduled to begin in 2103, with construction commencing in 2014.


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  1. DJRippert Avatar

    “Among three routes examined, the Corps contends, the least environmentally damaging would be one that utilized the existing highway and added bypasses around several small communities.”.

    A bypass. Like the one around Charlottesville?

  2. DJRippert Avatar

    One day a hurricane will turn its evil eye toward Tidewater. After much televised debate over the hurricane’s track it will become obvious that Hampton Roads is in peril. People will attempt to flee but the roads will be backed up. Some will die in their cars as they sit in traffic.

    People will ask, “How could this happen? Didn’t “government” see this coming?”.

    The empty suits and blowhards in office when the tragedy strikes will blame their predecessors, claim the catastrophe couldn’t be predicted and generally hem and haw (Look at Katrina).

    In reality, The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond will have sown the seeds of this fiasco by failing to keep transportation revenues in step with inflation.

    We can’t help assure the safety of millions with an alternate evacuation route “because it would be impractical to toll.”.

    Dear Lord.

    The good people of Tidewater should petition the federal government to leave Virginia and become part of North Carolina. At least the North Carolina legislature knows how to keep transportation funding up with inflation.

    1. Don, VDOT makes a valid argument in saying that separate bypasses around five or six small communities would be “impractical to toll.” What would you propose, toll booths on each bypass? If not, what tolling configuration would you suggest?

      I fail to see how this dilemma has anything to do with the “Imperial Clown Show in Richmond.”

      1. DJRippert Avatar

        I would suggest that the public safety of millions of Virginians is a valid reason to raise the gas tax and build better evacuation routes without the need for tolls.

        The only reason that everything becomes a tolling question is because the revenues for transportation have not been kept in line with the increasing costs of transportation by …

        The Imperial Clown show in Richmond.

  3. I guess DJ does not get down Hampton way often or else he would have seen the contra-flow gates on the I-64 ramps, eh?

    I still think the better option is to add lanes to the existing I-64 until Providence Forge then a new connector road south to I-85.

    VDOT is cutting cost corners to make this work as a toll road that likely is going to be a dog of a revenue generator because most passenger cars are not headed to/from Hampton from I-85 south.

    This is starting to sound like a truck/toll version of the Pocahontas parkway. I’m suspicious that 460 Mobility Partners has essentially a “hold harmless” deal.

    The one important thing that a stand alone toll road tells you – is the truth about real “need”.

    What VDOT is doing is getting into the business of subsidizing toll roads for profitable companies.

    this is not good. it’s a perversion of PPTA IMHO.

    DJ still does not “get” why the clown show in Richmond is afraid to raise gas taxes. He’d apparently have them all fall on their swords to “do the right thing”. The “clown show”, bless their hearts know the people who elected them and the people who elected them perceive how gas taxes get sucked into developer/entrepreneur slush funds rather than real needs.

    For those that fancy themselves as “conservatives” – VDOT demonstrates a fundamental edict of a government agency:

    there is NEVER…. ENOUGH.. money… right?

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      48 states have raised their gas tax since Virginia last raised the tax in 1986. The only state behind Virginia is Alaska – which has oil exploration revenues to spend.

      Larry – how can 48 other state legislatures keep their gas taxes up with inflation while Virginia can’t?

  4. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Somehow this whole project raced along to quickly. The only urgency that I can see is that McDonnell leaves office after next year.

  5. re: inflation. DJ did you factor in the 1/2% sales tax which by my calculations is worth about a dime of gas tax.

    that would put Va at 27 cents a gallon.

    Now give McDonnell credit – he did try to get money from alcohol and the from education (by diverting some of the sales tax) to transportation and Kaine and Deeds tried also but they were hammered by the “no-tax” folks.

    but I do not call the GA the clown show because if you look at how legislation like indexing the gas tax is processed, you’ll see that one or two guys in a committee can kill it and it never gets to a full vote but even if it did – the no-tax folks would eviscerate those who voted for it.

  6. Apply the Tysons precendent – landowners pay 59.5% of the costs.

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