Interchange is a must

Published 5:56 pm Thursday, May 5, 2016

Community leaders’ complacency about two-way access to U.S. 460 at the Third Street interchange is inexcusable.

Ten years after a Virginia Department of Transportation study pegged the cost of a westbound entrance ramp and eastbound exit ramp at $12 million to $15 million, Prince Edward County officials continue to sit on their hands, resigned to misguided notions that the price tag is too expensive and that the project will never rise up VDOT’s priority list.

Fifteen million for a highway interchange may sound like a lot of money, but the investment would be transformative for this community and its economy. Farmville’s eastern edge — a corridor primed for commercial development — would flourish economically with westbound access to one of Virginia’s most heavily traveled non-interstate highways. The increased sales tax and property tax revenue associated with that development would repay the $15 million investment in short order.

VDOT, like any bureaucratic agency, allocates its grease to the squeakiest wheel. If Prince Edward County and Town of Farmville leaders jump on their soapbox and start rattling cages from Lynchburg to Richmond, VDOT will listen. A simultaneous push from the region’s legislative delegation, as well as the leaders of Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College, would create even more momentum.

As it stands, community leaders’ deafening silence has yielded a predictable result: economic stagnation.