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New Rockland Road section opened to traffic

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The realignment of the U.S. 340-522 intersection with Reliance and Rockland roads is complete. This is the view looking down the new section of Rockland Road from the intersection. Rich Cooley/Daily

Realignment of Warren County intersection is nearly finished

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The Rockland Road project is nearing completion, with last week's opening of the road and new traffic signals on U.S. 340/522.

The project has succeeded in its goal to realign Rockland Road with Reliance Road, complete with traffic signals and turn lanes.

Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress said that originally VDOT added the project to Warren County's 1996-1997 secondary six-year improvement plan.

The roads were substandard to VDOT, Childress said, as there were no turn lanes. The intersections of both roads required the installation of traffic signals, "but we didn't want to see two signals within less than 1,000 feet of each other," he said.

Childress said the county and VDOT then looked at alternatives and eventually settled on the realignment of Rockland Road.

"VDOT recognized that the project would improve access and traffic flow into areas of the Kelly Industrial Park," Childress said.

Ed Carter, the program director for VDOT's Edinburg residency, said it wasn't until July 1999 that the county had funding to begin preliminary engineering associated with the project. The project continued to take time to get under way.

"Our work is done in various stages," Carter said, and listed things like acquiring the right of way, holding public hearings, design, and advertising for construction as the various obstacles for the project. Childress added that the project was also constantly in competition with other road projects and budgets.

The estimated cost of the project was about $5.35 million, Carter said, but the actual cost will be less.

The winning bid from the contractor was an immediate cost cut, Childress said, as was the donation of the right of way by property owners.

"Over a million dollars of right of way was donated," he said.

While the road and traffic signal has officially been opened to the public for almost two weeks, Childress says that some construction and maintenance is still being wrapped up.
"Most of the heavy road work is done," he said, and added that the county is excited that VDOT was able to move forward and complete the project.

"It's a tremendous asset to the industrial community, as well as the county, and it will continue to address safety issues," Childress said.


Winchester has Shenandoah University stealing Millwood Avenue to add that land to their proposed campus expansion.

Warren County faced a choice - align Reliance Road to Rockland Road OR align Rockland Road to Reliance Road. Moving Reliance Road was a simpler, less expensive construction choice involving some land already government owned.

Warren County used $5.35 million of taxpayer money to create, finance, and construct a useless re-routed Rockland Road; useless in the sense there was nothing wrong with the old Rockland Road. But, the new Rockland Road bisects a proposed shopping center, Cedarville Commons, 770,000 square feet of retail store construction, twice the size of the two existing shopping centers, Crooked Run and Rivermont Commons, combined.

Thanks to Warren County, this developer can double or triple the selling price of store sites that now have frontage on a 4 lane divided highway that literally cost the developer nothing but cost taxpayers $5,350,000. A side benefit to the developer was the tax write-off for 'donating' the right-of-way. Without the highway, the land it now occupies would have been used as parking lots for shoppers. Let there be no mistake, "donating" this land as highway right-of-way created a windfall profits opportunity for the developer.

Who can say which politicians have already enjoyed a financial windfall and which ones will benefit with the future enjoyment of "legal grift" selling no-bid services to the developer?

Wow, VDOT, et al, though it was much better to spend 5.35 million to create an unnecessary road instead of installing and synchronizing a 2nd traffic signal that would of saved the tax payers a hell of a lot more money then was wasted. Good decision........ so much for common sense.

You're right Schmo, but most people are to stupid to realize that the 'kind hearted land donor' would reap the benefits in the end. Only the taxpayers lose, again........

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