Transportation Secretary Layne Announces Route 460 Project Contract Suspended While Environmental Work Takes Place
Commonwealth remains committed to Route 460 improvements in southeastern Virginia, but contract work is temporarily halted to cut spending during environmental work
Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne announced contract and permit work is being temporarily suspended on the Route 460 project in southeastern Virginia while the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) continues the needed environmental reviews.
“Suspending contract and permit work is a prudent and practical move to cut spending while the focus is 100 percent on securing environmental approvals,” said Layne. “The commonwealth remains committed to moving forward on Route 460 corridor improvements. They are needed to provide an additional hurricane evacuation route and to better move commerce from the port. 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.”
The $1.4 billion contract was awarded in late 2012 to US 460 Mobility Partners to design and build a new 55-mile limited access highway that would parallel the existing Route 460 from Suffolk to Petersburg.
While the project had a previous Record of Decision (ROD) from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), it must also have a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since construction would impact streams and wetlands. At the request of the Corps and the FHWA, VDOT is updating the environmental impacts of the project and reviewing other alternatives. Once this environmental work is completed, the Corps will consider a permit decision.
Layne added, “It is too early to determine the final outcome of the project at this time. The environmental review process, which will include public input, will help to decide what’s best for the region. We have to let that process unfold. In the meantime, no public dollars will be spent on the project other than what is necessary to complete the environmental review process.”
Here’s what has occurred and the next steps:
- US 460 Mobility Partners has finished the work they needed to do to support development of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). Since their services are no longer needed at this time, contract work has been temporarily suspended, including US 460 Mobility Partners’ tasks to secure a permit by the Corps.
- VDOT is preparing the draft SEIS for public review. The SEIS will evaluate a reasonable range of alternatives to make improvements to the Route 460 corridor.
- Public meetings will be held along the corridor to review the draft SEIS.
- VDOT will then prepare the final SEIS, which will include how the agency addresses public comments and any new information. The final document will include a preferred alternative.
- It is anticipated the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will issue their decisions on the final SEIS and a preferred alternative by the end of 2014.
VDOT procured the Route 460 project under the Public-Private Transportation Act to secure private sector funds and maximize risk sharing to deliver the project. In December, 2012, the Route 460 Funding Corporation of Virginia, a nonstock, nonprofit corporation formed under state laws, entered into a comprehensive agreement with US 460 Mobility Partners to design and build the project. Today, the Corporation issued the stop work order to temporarily suspend contract work after review and consultation with VDOT.