This report is from a public meeting on the US 460 Location Study, from Petersburg to Suffolk, VA.  The meeting was held in Windsor, VA on February 28, 2004.

US 460 Location Study public meeting (Windsor, VA)

Went to the public meeting for the US 460 Location Study between Petersburg and Suffolk. Meeting was held at Windsor High School...roughly 40 miles from Norfolk Navy Base, but doable (took me just over an hour to get there). The project website doesn't have much, and doesn't have a map of the alternatives yet, but is located here:

Some highlights:

- Lots of good information, and a gaggle of representatives available, not just from VDOT, but from the consultants involved in the study. Both Parsons Brinckerhoff and Michael Baker, Inc are involved with the study, as were at least two other consulting firms that I don't recall offhand. Besides talking with VDOT's Route 460 project manager, I had a nice 20 minute long discussion with one of the engineers from VDOT's central office about various aspects of the corridor and the project.

- The two endpoints for the study are I-295 near Petersburg, and US 58 in Suffolk. When I asked about the endpoints, I was told that this particular segment of the TransAmerica Corridor is the one being pursued in earnest (at least in Virginia) because it has the highest benefit-cost ratio of the Virginia segments. I took that as meaning that they don't intend to study an additional segment bypassing Petersburg, at least not anytime soon.

- Besides the usual "schedule" and "process" charts, there was a piechart with respondent's answers to 3 questions from the August 2003 meetings (most respondents use 460 everyday, about 2/5 use it to commute, and just over 1/4 drive between 11 and 20 miles along 460).

- One chart showed typical cross-sections being considered. The 4-lane divided alternative had a 32 foot median. Two 5-lane undivided cross-sections are being with curb-and-gutter, the other with 10ft paved shoulders.  Both 5-lane cross-sections would have a 16ft center turn lane, and 12ft standard lanes.

- A map showing Origin-Destination Survey data was available. The survey was done in May 2003, and the study team received 583 responses out of 2,222 surveys (26% return rate...not bad). Of the eastbound travelers (surveyed near VA 156), 80% came from the Richmond area, 15% from elsewhere in Virginia, and 5% from out of the state. 60% had a destination within the study area, 31% were headed to the Hampton Roads area, with the remainder going elsewhere (Eastern Shore or northeastern North Carolina being among the suspects). For westbound traffic, surveyed in Suffolk, 91% were coming from the Hampton Roads area. 75% of the destinations were within the study area, with 15% going to the Richmond area and the remainder elsewhere in Virginia or out of state. Froggie's "Captain Obvious" Conclusion: US 460 is used as a long-distance through route moreso for eastbound traffic than it is for westbound traffic.

- Another map showed existing traffic counts, traffic signals, and intersection LOS. There are 12 traffic signals in all between I-295 and US 58, with 7 of those 12 concentrated in Windsor (4) and Suffolk (3). All but one of those intersections has a current LOS of A or B, so no major deal. The only exception was the SR 610/603 intersection in Windsor, which is currently LOS C.  I can understand this disparity, given that the intersection is at a skewed angle, and there are no left turn lanes on that portion of US 460.  Traffic counts are fair for a 4-lane, with the highest counts on either end of the corridor...particularly the Suffolk end. Lowest traffic count between Windsor and Suffolk was 13.5K ADT, while the Waverly-to-Windsor segment (generally the middle 1/3rd) has the lowest overall traffic counts, generally under 11.5K ADT.  Truck volumes are heavy, with 18% trucks east of Windsor, and averaging about 28-29% trucks west of Windsor. This leads credence to the theory that the bulk of the through traffic on US 460 is truck traffic.

- Another map showed 1997-2002 accident locations. Accident locations were spread throughout the corridor. If one had to narrow down "hotspots", my own opinion would be that the hotspots are between I-295 and VA 156, and also from Zuni (Southampton/Isle of Wight County line) to Suffolk. There were also a lot of accidents in Waverly. A project newsletter stated that fatality and injury rates along US 460 are higher than that for other 4-lane corridors in Virginia.

- Two large maps, one of them an aerial image, showed the alignment alternatives being studied. There are 5 alignments overall ("A"-"E"), with a lot of crossover segments for possible combinations. 4 of the 5 alternatives meet I-295 at the existing 295/460 interchange (Alt "E" would meet 295 about halfway between US 460 and VA 36), while in Suffolk all alternatives meet US 58 at or near the existing 58/460 interchange.

- Alt. "A" is an "all south" new alignment, averaging about 2 miles south of existing US 460. Alt. "B" follows the existing corridor except for northerly bypasses of Disputanta, Waverly, Wakefield, Ivor, Zuni, and Windsor. Alt "C" is generally northerly of the existing corridor, sharing some bypass segments with Alt. "B", but is south of the existing corridor in Suffolk and west of Waverly.  Alt "D" is more northerly than Alt "C", averaging about 3 miles north of the existing corridor between the Suffolk line and Wakefield, and averaging about 5 miles north between Wakefield and VA 156. Alt "E" is the most northerly corridor being studied...most of Alt. "E" is closer to VA 10 than it is to existing US 460...averaging about 5-7 miles south of VA 10, and even follows the VA 10/32 alignment from just south of VA 125 to just north of US 58.

- A preliminary alternative screening has been done. All 5 alternatives are generally similar in length...53-56 miles, compared to 50 miles for the existing corridor. Alt "B" utilizes as much of the existing corridor as possible, with only 28 miles of new alignment. The other 4 alternatives are virtually all new-alignment.

- Alt. "B" would have 18 "access points"...the other 4 alternatives would have less than 10...with Alt. "A" having only 6. Wetlands impacts range from 279 acres with Alt. "E". to 366 acres with Alt. "C". Alt. "C" would have 24 stream crossings, compared to 39 crossings for Alt. "B". Alt "A" would not have any Section 4(f) impacts, wile Alt. "E" would impact 41 acres of Section 4(f) land.  Both "D" and "E" would not affect any public facilities. Alt "C" would affect 6.

- The EIS is studying 3 possibilities for the corridor: a freeway ("limited-access" in VDOT-speak), an expressway ("controlled-access" in VDOT-speak), or a tollway. A tollway feasibility study is being done concurrently with the environmental studies. Also being done concurrently is the Richmond/Hampton Roads High-Speed Rail Study, located at . In talking with the VDOT managers, building an expressway, with a design and enough ROW to accommodate eventual upgrade to freeway, is also a possibility. At a minimum, all build alternatives will incorporate some sort of access control.

- In talking with the Central Office engineer, I found that VDOT is working on integrating their Richmond region and Hampton Roads region traffic models into one model, to better predict what various improvements would do to traffic along the US 460 and I-64 corridors.

- Last note: the Draft EIS is expected to be out sometime this fall.

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