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Do the right thing on 460

There’s little doubt that something needs to be done to improve the safety and efficiency of Route 460.

The road, for much of the distance it traverses between Suffolk and the outskirts of Richmond, is a four-lane, undivided highway. It carries many vehicles, including thousands of tractor-trailers, every day. These vehicles drive closely together at high speeds on a boring stretch of road that lends itself to drowsy driving and inattentive driving.

Due to these factors, the road is infamous for its potential for catastrophic crashes that take lives and irrevocably change other lives.

That something must be done has been clear for more than a decade. Unfortunately, the administration of Gov. Bob McDonnell squandered much of that time by pushing a costly plan that never would have cleared the necessary environmental hurdles.

That plan was so costly, in fact, that it cost taxpayers nearly $300 million without a single shovelful of dirt turned before the project died due to the lack of a sufficient return on investment for the massive cost. It scored so lowly on the state’s new Smart Scale assessment program that there was no hope of its resurrection.

But the problems presented by the current road remain and are getting worse, so the Virginia Department of Transportation has undertaken a safety and operations study of the road. It expects to issue a final report this month, but it will still be several years before any permanent improvements come to fruition.

Preliminary reports indicate that increased speed enforcement, trimming roadside vegetation and clearing vegetation from drainage ditches — both relatively low-cost measures — could help in some spots.

While a permanent solution is under review, the Virginia Department of Transportation should do everything it can to keep Route 460 as safe as possible. And we urge all drivers on the road to do their part as well by driving responsibly.