By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Free state money for roads doesn't last forever, and Frederick County could lose some funds if not spent soon.
The Virginia Department of Transportation may "de-allocate" more than $2.5 million in state-matching money allocated by the agency through its revenue-sharing program, Frederick County officials learned Monday. VDOT alerted County Administrator John R. Riley Jr. of the situation via letter Wednesday. The matter came before the Board of Supervisors' transportation committee Monday.
VDOT allocated $950,000 in revenue-sharing funds to the extension of Tevis Street (Va. 788) in the 2007-2008 fiscal cycle for the program, according to the letter. The extension of Tevis Street remains a top priority road project for both the county and Winchester, and is to include a bridge over Interstate 81 connecting two localities.
However, the county has not spent the allocated money on the project in large part because the developer of the property, Russell 150 LLC, filed for bankruptcy protection.
The developer owes several million dollars in real estate taxes and other levies. The filing put on hold attempts to sell the property to satisfy mechanics liens pending against the developer.
Even if the locality had money to begin work on the extension it could not because it lacks the rights of way through the property, according to John Bishop, transportation planner for Frederick County. Rights of ways are tied up in the bankruptcy, he said.
"We really had anticipated some movement [in the bankruptcy case] on Friday -- it just didn't happen," said Stonewall District Supervisor Charles S. "Chuck" Dehaven Jr. "It's been a very frustrating issue from the very beginning, but we live and learn. We'll make progress someday, somehow."
Private interest in developing the Russell 150 property likely exists, said Bishop.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see who owns a lot of land down there who might benefit from that," Bishop said. "So it's my understanding that there's a lot of interest there but, with things tied up in bankruptcy and the market being what it is, being able to totally gauge how ... we can put something together is tough. That still seems to be the project that makes the most sense, and we don't have a competing project right now."
VDOT information shows unspent money allocated to the county dates to the 2000-2001 fiscal cycle -- $441,177 awarded for work on Va. 719. Amounts facing de-allocation range from $9 left unspent for work on a rural addition on Geneva Place (Va. 995) to the money awarded for the Tevis Street extension project. The county also stands to lose $817,663 allocated in 2003-2004 to construct a new road for Va. 1520.
As Bishop explained, much of the allocated money remaining is for projects either long-since completed or changed.