You asked: Local road projects ranked with new criteria

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How did our local road safety improvement projects rank under the new House Bill 2 scoring process?

Safety improvements to the intersection of U.S. 460 and Holly Farm Road east of Farmville in Prince Edward County scored sixth highest in the state as part of a new data-driven prioritization process set forth by the Virginia General Assembly.

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The transportation project was one of nearly 300 proposed by localities and regional planning bodies across the state, according to a press release from Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office.

The scoring is a key part of a new law, known as House Bill 2, developed on a bipartisan basis with House Speaker William Howell and Del. Chris Stolle to invest tax dollars in transportation projects.   

Improvements at the intersection could cost over $2.7 million, according to the release.

Other projects that scored well in a recommended scenario for funding included, in order of rank, the intersection of U.S. Route 15 and Route 692 at Kingsville ($2.8 million), the intersection of U.S. Route 15 and Route 636 at Sheppards in Buckingham ($2.7 million), the intersection of U.S. Route 60 and Route 56 in Buckingham ($3 million), the intersection of U.S. Route 15 and Route 665 at Worsham ($5 million) and the intersection of Main Street at Milnwood Road in Farmville

($1.2 million).

The two submissions from Cumberland County were not included in the scenario.

“We are very pleased that VDOT has completed the process,” said County Administrator Wade Bartlett, “and we’re even more pleased that we saw that our number one priority, which is the intersection of 307 and [U.S. Route] 460, from our understanding, was rated the fourth highest in the state.”

Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne also released a list of recommended projects to be funded based on the results of the scores, which will be reviewed and considered by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) over the next five months.

“This is a new process for the state, for the CTB. We just don’t know how the CTB is going to allocate the funding,” Bartlett said.

About $1.7 billion is available for improvements, the release stated.

Cumberland County Attorney and Administrator Vivian Seay Giles offered no comment on the exclusion of Cumberland from the scenario.

“We met with Kevin Wright and Scott Shippee [from VDOT] to choose the two safety issues that would provide the most points based on accidents,” said Buckingham County Administrator Rebecca S. Carter. “VDOT information demonstrated these two intersections to have the most safety concerns. I expected Sheppard’s to score higher due to the accident history than 60 and 56, although 60 and 56 definitely [have] sight problems also.”

Carter said she was disappointed that the county’s submittal “did not rank higher in our district; however, I understand that the VDOT board is still reviewing the proposals and final grant awards will be announced possibly in June. As far as House Bill 2 bringing a fair share of money to Buckingham to meet the needs for safety improvements, it is too soon to make a judgement.”

“If we scored well, I hope we do get the funding,” said Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates of the Milnwood Road and South Main Street safety improvements. “What that will mean is that we get 100 percent funding on that project, so it’ll have a tremendous impact on us.”

He said the project was “really needed.”

“The law requires projects to be scored based on how they ease congestion, improve economic development, provide accessibility to jobs, improve safety and environmental quality and support transportation-efficient land use. Projects in other parts of the state score higher if they support economic development,” stated the release.

The CTB will seek input on recommended scenarios of funded projects during hearings in the spring.  Following public input, the board will determine which projects to fund and include in the six-year program.

“Again, this is not final nor are these projects funded at this point. This is merely the scoring of the applications that were submitted,” said VDOT spokeswoman Paula Jones.

Thirty-six applications were submitted by localities in the Lynchburg District.