Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

HJR 75: U.S. Route 460 Communication Committee

September 25, 2006

The joint subcommittee held its first meeting of 2006 on September 25, in Richmond. Delegate Wardrup was elected chair and Senator Quayle was elected vice-chair. Pierce Homer, Secretary of Transportation, introduced the guest speakers—Alan Tobias, Manager of Passenger Rail Programs, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and Richard Walton, Chief of Policy, Planning, and the Environment, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Mr. Tobias asked Kenneth Sislak to brief the members on a study of the feasibility of high-speed passenger rail service between the Richmond area and Hampton Roads.


Kenneth Sislak - DMJM Harris Consultant
Mr. Sislak briefed the members on the feasibility of high-speed passenger rail service between the Richmond area and Hampton Roads. He reminded the committee that in 1995 the route between Richmond and Hampton Roads was designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as part of the Southeastern High Speed Rail Corridor. Mr. Sislak briefed the committee on the three alternative routes being studied, two on the peninsula and one in the Southside. He compared them in terms of speed, cost, ridership, and travel time. Alternative 2b on the Peninsula was the least expensive at $192.9 million with a speed of 90 mph. The most expensive option would be Alternative 2a at $493.4 million with a speed of 110 mph. He gave the committee some benchmark examples of other high speed rail services throughout the United States by which to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the possible Richmond/Hampton Roads high speed rail.

Mr. Sislak explained that the next step in the study process is to receive and publish Federal Railroad Administration approval of the Tier I Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). A public hearing on the Draft EIS is scheduled to be held in the Fall/Winter of 2006, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s approval will be sought in the Spring of 2007. Issues that remain include determining who the service provider will be, the level of federal funding available, capacity, and access fees to freight rail lines, which are currently owned by CSX and Norfolk Southern rail systems.

Mr. Richard Walton - Chief of Policy, Planning, and the Environment, VDOT
Mr. Walton gave a briefing on the status of the U.S. Route 460 project including location decision and PPTA solicitation. He reminded the committee that an improved U.S. Route 460 is needed to improve safety, accommodate increasing freight shipments, reduce travel delay, and provide adequate hurricane evacuation capability. Mr. Walton explained that there were three Candidate Build Alternatives with CBA 2 being the existing highway and CBA 1 to the south and CBA 3 to the north. CBA 2 is estimated to be the most expensive, because of right of way acquisition, while CBA 1 is estimated to be the least expensive of the three options. Mr. Walton informed the committee of the public involvement opportunities included in the study and local governments' positions on the project. According to public comment, the most favored of the other alternatives with the citizens of the affected region is CBA 1. The Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Environmental Protection Agency preferred alternative is CBA 2. Mr. Walton announced that VDOT recommended route CBA 1, the southern alignment, because it meets purpose and need, is least expensive, requires fewer residential and business relocations, impacts fewer wetlands, and has the most public support. CBA 1 was approved by VDOT on November 15, 2005.

PPTA solicitation for proposals of the project were issued February 15, 2006, with three proposals being received on September 14, 2006. Proposals range in price from $1,051 million to $1,550 million, and the range of tolls is consistent with the Route 460 Toll Feasibility Study. The next steps in the process include continuing to evaluate tolling as a funding source, determining whether private proposals are viable, and providing local governments with an opportunity to comment on the proposals.

Work Plan

The next meeting of the joint subcommittee will be held on November 1, 2006, in Suffolk.

The Hon. Leo C. Wardrup, Jr.

For information, contact:
Alan Wambold and Stephanie Bishop, DLS Staff


Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

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