Virginia suspends work on Route 460

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The Virginia Department of Transportation has suspended work on the $1.4 billion Route 460 until pending environmental reviews are completed.

Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said Friday that the commonwealth was still committed to the project and that suspending work on the highway was totally based on securing environmental approvals.

“[The improvements] are needed to provide an additional hurricane evacuation route and to better move commerce from the port,” Layne said in a statement. “This benefits safety, mobility and future economic development. But services are not needed now from US 460 Mobility Partners, the design-build firm that was contracted to build the new Route 460. This will limit costs to only what is absolutely necessary to conduct environmental work, which will be led and managed by VDOT.”

Almost $300 million has been spent on the project so far, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The project has been unable so far to receive environmental permits needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The $1.4 billion contract was awarded to U.S. 460 Mobility Partners to design and build the 55-mile highway that would parallel the existing Route 460 from Suffolk to Petersburg. The project was awarded to U.S. 460 Mobility Partners in late 2012 under Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act.

Layne added that the environmental review process will determine the future of the project and whether the project is best for the region.

VDOT said U.S. 460 Mobility Partners has finished the work needed to develop the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). VDOT is preparing the draft SEIS for public review, which will evaluate a reasonable range of alternatives to make improvements to the Route 460 corridor.

The state agency expects the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue their final decisions on the final SEIS and a preferred alternative by the end of 2014.

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