County to submit two Route 460 projects to VDOT
By Stephen Faleski
The Tidewater News
Isle of Wight County’s Transportation Department plans to submit two proposals for improvements to the Route 460 corridor in Windsor to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale this month.
Smart Scale is VDOT’s formula for evaluating the cost versus benefit of proposed roadway improvement projects. The window for localities to submit proposals for evaluation will close on Wednesday, Aug. 1. Projects that score highly enough on the scale will be given full funding from the state.
The first of the two proposed improvements to the Route 460 corridor would focus on its intersection with Route 258, also known as Prince Boulevard within Windsor’s town limits. Isle of Wight’s Transportation Department has proposed adding turn lanes to the north and south legs of the intersection and adding sidewalks on the north side of the intersection to connect with existing sidewalks on Route 460.
To increase the likelihood that VDOT will approve the proposal, the county has asked Windsor’s Town Council to issue a resolution or letter of support for the project by Saturday, Dec. 1.
The second proposed project would focus on improving the six-way intersection in town.
While the members of council were supportive of the proposal for the Route 258/460 intersection, several expressed reservations over the county’s recommendation for the six-way intersection, which specified turning it into a four-way by eliminating the intersections at Bank Street and Church Street.
Were this proposal to be implemented, the leg of Church Street that connects with Route 460
would be transformed into a cul-de-sac, and the leg of Bank Street that extends from its intersection with E. N. and W. Street to its intersection with Route 460 would be dug up and replanted with grass. According to Isle of Wight’s transportation director Jamie Oliver, traffic on Route 460 traveling to locations on Church Street, such as Windsor High School, would need to turn at Court Street, Roberts Avenue or Lovers Lane.
Mayor Carita Richardson expressed doubts over whether redirecting through traffic on Church Street to Roberts Avenue or Lovers Lane, both of which have stop signs rather than traffic signals, would actually alleviate congestion.
“I just had a friend with a business, the business is on 460, and she came out Roberts one morning; she sat there 12 minutes before she could make a left turn,” Richardson said. “We used to come out there on Lovers Lane. We never go that way anymore because you just can’t get out.”
Councilman Walter Bernacki added that farmers often use Church Street to move their heavy equipment and that if the road becomes closed to through traffic, they would need to use Route 460 instead. This would result in their wide, slow-moving vehicles potentially taking up more than one lane of the highway, he said.
Following the council members’ concerns, Oliver said on Wednesday that the county’s transportation office now intends to recommend only the Bank Street portion of its proposal for the six-way intersection. The transportation department hopes to have additional discussions with the town regarding Church Street, but Oliver was uncertain whether those conversations could happen in time to meet the deadline for Smart Scale applications.
Richardson also asked Oliver if the county’s transportation department had received the proposal created by Walter Kulash on behalf of the Southern Environmental Law Center in 2016 when the town was seeking alternatives to VDOT’s plans to build a new Route 460 bypass around Windsor. The proposal had called for the creation of a five-lane highway within the existing corridor, with a center turn lane and curb and gutter sidewalks on either side. It had also suggested a different method of redesigning the six-way intersection.
Oliver said she had received the Kulash proposal but that she and the transportation department had concerns regarding its feasibility. She added that the county had not formed a specific opinion on the proposal, because VDOT had indicated that it does not consider the proposal to be feasible and would not be pursuing it.
VDOT will release a preliminary evaluation of this round of Smart Scale applications in January 2019, hold public hearings in March and April and make a final decision in June on which projects will receive funding.