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Projects get second-round rankings

Only two road improvement projects in The Herald’s coverage area have made it through the second round of scoring under the new SMART SCALE prioritization process used by the state’s Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB).

The two projects include improvements at the U.S. Route 460 and Route 626 intersection at Prospect in Prince Edward County and at the intersection of Columbia Road (Route 690) and Cartersville Road (Route 45) in Cumberland County, according to CTB documents.

No projects in Buckingham made the second round.

“More than 400 project applications submitted by localities, metropolitan organizations and other regional entities across the state have been scored based on key factors,” Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials said in a press release, noting improvements to safety, congestion reduction, accessibility to jobs and businesses, land use, economic development and the environment. “The CTB will not make a decision on which projects to fund until their June meeting this year, following a five-month review process.”

The Prince Edward project would include intersection improvements, including installing “dynamic flashers to improve safety,” according to the project application.

“This is the main intersection at Prospect and has been recommended by VDOT staff for a number of years for ‘safety improvements’ and has a high-accident history,’” officials said in the application.

The project ranked a benefit score of 79.63 — the second-highest ranked in the VDOT Lynchburg District. The project could see funding upwards of $216,955.

Cumberland’s proposed project — ranked at 6.89 — includes a roundabout at the intersection of Routes 45 and 690, according to the project application. Funding is set at $3.5 million. The roundabout, officials said in the application, would “improve safety due to sight distance concerns and accidents.”

“What’s important at this stage is the process,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “Because of SMART SCALE, the commonwealth has an objective data-driven process to score projects based on their merits and the value they bring for taxpayer dollars.The SMART SCALE process has empowered localities to submit proposed projects based on objective measures.”

Layne said the new process has resulted in localities “working collaboratively and thoughtfully to select projects that will bring the most benefit to their areas.” 

All the projects will not get funded because “there is not near enough resources,” Layne said. “There are 404 scored applications requesting more than $8.5 billion in funding when $1 billion is available. With the needs far outweighing the source of funding, a deliberative and pragmatic process like SMART SCALE is absolutely imperative to make sure the limited funds go to the right projects.”

“There will be further review and evaluation over the coming months and a draft list of projects for funding will be released for public review in the spring,” said VDOT Division Administrator Tamara Rollinson. “Following public review, the CTB will make the final selection to include in the six-year program in June.”