Saturday, February 24, 2024

State Recommends Full Funding for Longhill Road Improvements

Commuters travel on Longhill Road Sept. 13, a roadway that James City County planners hope to widen in the coming years.
Commuters travel on Longhill Road Sept. 13, 2015, a roadway that James City County planners hope to widen in the coming years. (Kirsten Petersen/WYDaily)

One James City County road improvement is among 167 transportation projects statewide that have been recommended to be completely funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The first phase of the Longhill Road improvements, a $19.8 million project that includes widening the two-lane road into four lanes, scored a 1.415, a total that was just high enough to include the project as one of 18 in Hampton Roads that could be funded using $164,329,509 in district grants.

Comparatively, the two other projects JCC submitted – the Route 60 Multimodal Improvement Project, also known as the Pocahontas Trail Reconstruction Project, and the Route 60 Relocated and Skiffes Creek Connector project – earned a 0.373 and a 0.301, respectively.

The lowest ranking project in Hampton Roads recommended for district grant funding earned a 0.689.

The scores were released Jan. 19 as part of the prioritization process established by Virginia House Bill 2, known as HB2, in which the state evaluates which transportation needs are the most important to finance within a six-year improvement plan.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board will consider the recommended projects for funding when it updates the fiscal year 2017-2022 Six-Year Improvement Program in June. Residents can offer comment on projects they would like to see funded during public hearings in April and May.

VDOT spokeswoman Tamara Rollison said each score was determined based on a “data-driven, objective” method.

Officials from VDOT, the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation evaluated 321 applications to see how the proposed projects would mitigate congestion, enhance safety and accessibility, impact the environment, support economic development and efficiently use land. Of the 321 applications, 287 were eligible to be scored.

The final project score was devised using a calculation of the project benefits relative to the amount of funding requested and total project cost.

If the CTB funds the Longhill Road improvements, James City County would receive $18,029,136, as it has already set aside approximately $1 million in state and federal funds for the project.

JCC Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Hipple, who is also the county’s representative on the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, said saving money for this and other projects improves the county’s funding potential.

VDOT: Learn More About Route 60 Relocated and Skiffes Creek Connector

“I’m happy with what we’ve gotten so far and looking forward to pushing more for projects that we need,” Hipple said. “The biggest thing we’ve always been told is, ‘you’re going to have to come to the table with money.’ If not, your project won’t even be considered.

“We’re going to look at other options and ways to do that, [such as] grants, to figure out how to put more money into a project so we can rank better.”

The I-64 widening was also among the Hampton Roads projects recommended for full funding, specifically through the High Priority Projects Program.

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