Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board has approved the next round of Smart Scale funding, including 10 projects worth $35 million in Southwest Virginia.

Meeting last Wednesday in Richmond, the 17-member board approved $22.9 billion for highway, rail and public transportation as part of the state’s six-year improvement plan. It includes the third round of Smart Scale project funding, allocating $859.4 million for fiscal 2019-20 to 134 highway, public transportation and transportation demand management projects statewide, according to a written statement. The fiscal year begins July 1.

While the 12-county Bristol District originally had just three projects score well enough for this round, an additional seven projects were added through other funding sources.

Three projects were fully funded through the state’s high-priority project funding. Those include $2.8 million for a roundabout at the intersection of Lee Highway and Euclid Avenue in Bristol, $800,000 to improve the Russell Road and Poplar Street intersection in Abingdon and $4.5 million for intersection safety improvements on state Route 52 in Bland County, according to VDOT spokeswoman Michelle Earl.

Projects funded through district grant improvement funds include $3.6 million for U.S. Route 460 corridor improvements in Tazewell County; $12.8 million for the Progress Park connector road in Wythe County; $3.6 million for the U.S. Route 11/660 roundabout in Smyth County; $700,000 for intersection improvements at Hillman Highway and old Route 11 in Abingdon; $800,000 for traffic signals on College Avenue in Bluefield; $4.1 million to realign state Route 89 in Grayson County; and $1.3 million to modify an off-ramp at alternate U.S. Highway and U.S. Highway 23 in Norton.

The board’s six-year improvement plan designates $18.3 billion for VDOT highway con-struction; $1.5 billion for repairs; $1.3 billion for high-priority projects; $1.3 billion for the district grant program; $271 million for legacy programs, which include work predating the Smart Scale formula; and $4 billion for specialized programs, including $886 million for the Interstate 81 corridor improvement program.

The board also adopted a resolution to approve calendar year 2020 safety performance targets. These measures and targets related to the performance of the commonwealth’s surface transportation network were developed by the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment.

“Safety remains VDOT’s first priority and goal,” VDOT Commissioner Stephen C. Brich said in the statement. “As a part of our commitment to reduce highway crash-related fatalities and injuries, we continually review opportunities for infrastructure improvements and assess how safety funding can be optimized and prioritized.”

VDOT’s annual budget for fiscal year 2019-20 is $6.4 billion, a 17% increase from the current budget. The increase is primarily driven by the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission’s contribution to the Hampton Roads bridge-tunnel expansion project, according to the statement.

The Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s annual budget for fiscal 2019-20 is $730.5 million and is based on estimates of federal, state and local funding.

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dmcgee@bristolnews.com | 276-645-2532 | Twitter: @DMcGeeBHC | Facebook.com/david.mcgee.127

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