RICHMOND-- Development will begin immediately for a new $1.4 billion roadway in Southeast Virginia, creating thousands of jobs and improving transportation according to Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Greg Whirley and representatives of US 460 Mobility Partners and the Route 460 Funding Corporation of Virginia signed the agreement Thursday to design and build a new 55-mile section of U.S. Route 460.
The new U.S. 460 will be a four-lane divided highway from Prince George County to Suffolk. The toll road will run parallel to the existing U.S. 460. The existing Route 460 will remain a free alternative.
McDonnell says the project was developed to address roadway deficiencies, improve safety, accommodate increasing freight shipments and reduce travel delays among many other needs.
“As recognized by local officials and the General Assembly years ago, there is a clear and critical need for the new U.S. 460,” said McDonnell. “Today, the Commonwealth is finally delivering on that need and building a project that will not only make transportation better for the southeastern region and the state, it will also generate jobs and economic development opportunities, bringing extensive long-term benefits in so many ways.”
The project is expected to generate approximately 4,000 jobs during construction and 14,000 jobs over the long-term, according to Chmura Economics.
VDOT says the new road will provide a reliable alternative to I-64 between Richmond and Norfolk, saving 20 minutes compared to taking the existing U.S. 460.
Many local drivers question the value of the project knowing traffic is a major concern in other parts of the region.
"I can't see us taking $1.4 billion and putting it in a four-lane highway that's parallel to a highway we already have," said Norfolk resident Lyle Beckner.
Still, there are truck drivers like Angelo Pilgrim who drive on 460 everday. He says, despite the tolls that are going to pay for it, the project is long overdue.
"It's going to make clients a lot happier because you're going to get to and from them a lot faster."
Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson said, “The City of Suffolk was recently named one of America's best places to live for job growth. The benefits that the new U.S. 460 will bring including job opportunities and economic development will further enhance this mark of distinction. I welcome this project to our community.”
When the road opens in 2018, tolls will begin at approximately 7 cents per mile for cars and 21 cents per mile for trucks. This equates to $3.69 for cars and $11.72 for trucks for the entire 55 miles.
The project cost is $1.396 billion including design, construction and toll collection set-up.
The Virginia Department of Transportation will provide $903 million for the project.
The funding corporation sold $243 million in tax-exempt bonds this month to help pay for the project. It will manage the toll collection system for 40 years.
Assocaited Press also contributed to this report.