If you would like to receive updates regarding the U.S. Route 460 Corridor Improvements Project, or if you have any questions or comments, please visit www.route460ppta.org, email Route460PPTA@vdot.virginia.gov or call the toll-free project information line at 1-855-460-4600.
1. What is the U.S. Route 460 Corridor Improvements Project (Project)?
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is seeking to construct a limited-access, four-lane divided highway just south of the existing U.S. Route 460. The new road will have nine interchanges (one western terminus, one eastern terminus and seven intermediate interchanges) for access to localities along the 55-mile corridor between Prince George County and the City of Suffolk.
2. What does “limited-access” mean?
According to Va. Code § 33.1-57, “A limited access highway is defined as a highway especially designed for through traffic, over which abutters have no easement or right of light, air or access to by reason of the fact that their property abuts upon such limited access highway.” This will limit the number of access and exit points on the highway, and improve its safety and efficiency.
3. Why is VDOT pursuing this Project?
The Project is expected to bring significant short-term and long-term benefits to the commonwealth.
The existing U.S. Route 460 currently operates well outside of its original intended use and 1930s-era design. As a key link between the Port of Virginia, Interstate 95 and Interstate 85, U.S. Route 460 has become an important component of one of the major shipping and distribution corridors on the east coast.
The Project is designed to move a substantial amount of heavy freight traffic away from the existing U.S. Route 460, which will yield safety improvements. It will separate freight traffic from commuter traffic and expand the region’s ability to move people out of harm’s way when U.S. Route 460 is called upon to serve its role as one of the dedicated east-west hurricane evacuation routes for coastal regions in Virginia and North Carolina.
Additionally, recently completed improvements at the Port of Virginia make it one of the few east coast ports that can accommodate the Super-Panamex container ships. It is anticipated that these ships will utilize the Panama Canal, which is currently being widened to accommodate the larger ships and is expected to be completed in 2015. As a consequence, completion of the Project should be viewed as a significant milestone in maintaining the region’s competitiveness in international shipping.
4. What are the benefits of the Project?
The improvements for the U.S. Route 460 corridor will:
5. Why pursue a public-private partnership for the Project?
VDOT is procuring the Project with the assistance of the Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships (OTP3) under the provisions of the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995 (PPTA), as amended, to secure private sector funds and maximize risk sharing to accomplish the development of the Project.
6. What is the current status of the procurement for the Project?
The Commonwealth has selected US 460 Mobility Partners as the “Selected Offeror” to finance, design and build the new Route 460. The selection was made after a two-year procurement process involving detailed review and evaluation of private sector proposals.
VDOT plans to execute a comprehensive agreement with US 460 Mobility Partners by the end of 2012.
Additional information about the procurement process can be found in the PPTA Implementation Guidelines at http://vappta.org/resources/PPTA_Guidelines_FINAL_Revised_081205.pdf.
7. What private firms submitted financial proposals?
Financial proposals were received from the following three offerors:
8. How did VDOT determine the successful offeror?
US 460 Mobility Partners was selected as the successful offeror because they offered a financial plan requiring the least public subsidy.
VDOT carefully reviewed the detailed proposals submitted by the three offerors to ensure that the proposals met the minimum requirements set forth in the RFDP. The detailed proposal that met the requirements set forth in the RFDP and that had the lowest nominal public funds amount was considered the apparent best value proposal.
9. Why is VDOT using a design-build-finance approach?
VDOT and OTP3 have explored different financial and commercial structures, and based on the specific characteristics of this project have concluded that a design-build-finance approach will deliver the maximum value to the commonwealth. Using a design-build-finance approach will allow a full-scope project to be delivered within a shorter term contract period. In addition, the commonwealth will set and control the toll rates, and will retain the rewards associated with the potential increase in toll revenue. VDOT believes paying for the Project with a combination of public subsidies and tax exempt debt will result in lower overall project costs.
10. What is the cost of the Project?
The Project cost is $1.396 billion. Project cost includes design, construction, toll collection set-up and administrative costs.
11. How will the Project be funded?
Funding sources are as follows:
VDOT has applied for a $422 million TIFIA loan. If approved, the funding could further reduce the public subsidy for VDOT, VPA and reduce the amount of tax-exempt bonds.
A non-profit corporation called the Route 460 Corridor Funding Corporation of Virginia will issue tax-exempt bonds to finance the project. The debt will be non-recourse to VDOT, the Commonwealth and US 460 Mobility Partners. The funding corporation will collect the tolls, and manage the toll collection system over the course of 40 years.
12. Will the road be tolled?
Yes, open road tolling strategies will be used and the revenue collected through tolling will be utilized to pay for a portion of the construction cost.
13. How much will the tolls cost?
The Commonwealth of Virginia will set and control toll rates. Once the road is ready to open in 2018, tolling will begin at approximately 7 cents/mile ($0.067) for cars and 21 cents/mile ($0.213) for trucks. This equates to $3.69 for cars and $11.72 for trucks for the entire 55 miles.
Toll escalation will be 3.5% per year. The escalation rate includes inflation, so there will be no additional escalation due to inflation.
The commonwealth will earn any additional revenue generated by additional traffic on the road. The private partner will not receive any benefits from the toll revenue. In the event that actual traffic exceeds projected traffic on the road, the commonwealth can reduce the toll rates or the escalation factor
14. If the road is tolled, will traffic back-ups occur at toll booths?
Open road tolling does not require the use of toll booths. The facility will be an all-electronic tolled facility. A driver can affix an electronic tag, called a transponder (such as an E-ZPass), to the inside of their vehicle’s windshield. Tolls are then collected as the tag is read at normal highway speeds by electronic scanners suspended from gantries above the highway. There will be eight gantries along the road. Users will be charged for the distances they travel.
People who do not have E-ZPass transponders will still be able to use the road. People without transponders will receive invoices to pay for their tolls. There will be a fee to cover the actual cost of video toll processing and mailing. The fee will be a cost recovery charge, not a violation fee.
You can obtain a transponder by opening an account with E-ZPass Virginia. To find out more about E-ZPass, visit www.ezpassva.com or call 1-877-762-7824.
15. What is the history of the Project?
The 2000 Virginia Transportation Act designated U.S. Route 460 between the City of Suffolk and Prince George County as a high-priority corridor. As a result, VDOT began the required environmental review process in 2003 with the Route 460 Location Study and studied the area between Interstate 295 in Prince George County and the U.S. Route 58 Bypass in Suffolk. That same year, the General Assembly directed VDOT to develop the Project with a private-sector partner under the PPTA.
The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the proposed corridor alignment in 2005 and a modified alignment in 2007 (after VDOT was asked to evaluate a shift in the alignment in Isle of Wight County).
VDOT opened the procurement process for the project in 2006. The Federal Highway Administration approved the Final Environmental Impact Statement and issued the Record of Decision for the Project in 2008.
16. What preliminary work is being done to advance the Project?
VDOT has initiated several field activities along the U.S. Route 460 corridor. These activities are for the purpose of gathering and updating data, and involve some of the preliminary steps necessary to further develop the Project. The types of activities that are underway include survey work, subsurface investigations, environmental field survey work and traffic surveys. Additional activities may be initiated at a later date.
17. What does the survey work entail?
VDOT’s surveyors or its contractors are conducting field activities to update VDOT’s existing survey of the U.S. Route 460 corridor, which was completed in early 2008. This survey work is scheduled to occur between February 2012 and February 2013. If VDOT needs to access your property for the purposes of this survey work, you should have received a notification letter from VDOT. The surveyors may need to enter your property to locate physical features and property lines, establish control points and stake the locations of borings. The surveyors may need to cut some vegetation in order to perform these activities.
If you have any knowledge of cemeteries, easements or homeowner-installed utilities that are not recorded in your locality’s public records, have knowledge of any particular items of interest that may affect the improvements in your area, or have any questions, please contact Danny Williams at 757-925-2656.
18. What do the subsurface investigations involve?
VDOT or its contractors are conducting subsurface investigations to collect and evaluate the soils along the U.S. Route 460 corridor to determine construction details. It may be necessary for VDOT or its contractors to enter your property to access one or more of the proposed borehole locations to perform this work. VDOT will attempt to reach each property owner prior to beginning the subsurface investigations. VDOT anticipates that the subsurface investigations will occur between February 2012 and February 2013.
19. Why is VDOT conducting environmental field survey work?
VDOT or its contractors are conducting an environmental field survey for the purpose of gathering data to support VDOT’s continued efforts to evaluate the environmental resources along the U.S. Route 460 corridor. To effectively study the potential environmental impacts, VDOT’s employees or its consultants may need to enter your property. It may be necessary for them to take photographs and conduct testing, including, but not limited to, the performance of shovel tests and collection of soil samples. Representatives from the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as other federal and state agencies, may also be in attendance during the survey. VDOT anticipates that the field work will occur between August 2012 and February 2013.
20. What types of traffic surveys have been conducted?
VDOT’s traffic consultant has collected traffic data for several major roadways in the southeastern part of Virginia, including the Richmond/Tri-Cities and Hampton Roads metropolitan areas, to support improvements to the U.S. Route 460 corridor. Additionally, VDOT and its consultant conducted an online survey in spring 2012 to better understand traffic patterns in the area.
21. When is construction scheduled to begin?
VDOT is scheduled to enter into a contract with the Selected Offeror by the end of 2012. The project will need to be designed and right of way will need to be acquired in 2013.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2014. It is anticipated that the new road would open in 2018.
22. Will the public have the opportunity to comment on the proposed design?
VDOT and the Project team will hold design public hearings during which the public may inquire about and comment on the proposed design. Public comments can also be submitted by e-mail to Route460PPTA@vdot.virginia.gov or by mail to Mr. Adam Jack, 1700 N. Main Street, Suffolk, VA 23314.
23. Are local and regional jurisdictions involved in the process?
Yes, VDOT and the Project team are coordinating and will continue to coordinate closely with the local and regional jurisdictions throughout the Project.
24. Who will own the road?
The Commonwealth of Virginia will own the road.
25. Will the new highway be 500 feet wide?
No. The proposed corridor alignment that was approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board and is being subjected to further studies is approximately 500 feet wide. The new highway will be approximately 230 feet wide.
26. My property is within the Project corridor. When will I know if the Project will be developed and how it will impact my property?
Due to the nature of the procurement and the size of the Project, it will take some time to develop the Project sufficiently to fully understand property impacts. Except for the ongoing studies noted previously, further project development will not occur until the comprehensive agreement is executed. At that time, the private partner will begin developing the Project and will seek to minimize impacts on properties. During the preliminary engineering and right of way acquisition process, the private partner will contact property owners regarding the impacts of the Project on their properties. Additionally, the private partner will hold public hearings during which the public may comment on the proposed design.
As the Project develops, VDOT will keep the public notified of Project issues and the proposed schedule for right of way acquisition and construction. VDOT will continue to provide the public with information that will allow individuals to make decisions concerning their property.
A guide for property owners is available at: http://www.virginiadot.org/business/resources/Right_of_way/A_Guide_for_Property_Owners_and_Tenants.pdf. If you have questions regarding potential property impacts, please contact the program manager, Morteza Farajian, at 804-786-0470 or Route460PPTA@vdot.virginia.gov.
27. What about improvements that are planned and/or funded for the existing U.S. Route 460?
While the Project does not include improvements to the existing U.S. Route 460 (or other adjacent roadways), VDOT will continue to maintain the existing U.S. Route 460 as a free alternative.
28. Why isn’t the money being directed to other projects in the region, such as the Downtown Tunnel/Midtown Tunnel/MLK Extension Project?
As noted above, there are many reasons why the administration believes that pursuing the U.S. Route 460 Corridor Improvements Project will bring significant short-term and long-term benefits to the commonwealth.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has conducted numerous studies to analyze the benefits and costs associated with the Project. Based on a report prepared by Chmura Economics & Analytics in December 2011, it is estimated that the Project will create more than 4,000 jobs per year during construction. Upon completion of the new highway, the annual economic impact is estimated at $7.3 billion, which can support more than 14,000 jobs in the U.S. Route 460 corridor in 2020 and beyond.