Warren County to wait for road work funds

By Alex Bridges

Warren County shouldn’t expect to see substantial state money for road projects until 2017.

A state transportation official told the Board of Supervisors this week that the projects in the Six-Year Secondary Improvement Plan should receive funding in the future.

Supervisors held a public hearing jointly on Tuesday with the Virginia Department of Transportation on the plan for fiscal years 2014-2019. The plan outlines the county’s priority road projects funded by the department’s several categories. The plan also includes projects listed as priorities but not yet funded.

The board heard from Doug Rosen of Ashby Lane, Front Royal, who also represents the Shenandoah Magisterial District on the county’s Planning Commission. He spoke in support of the project to pave a 1-mile section of Ashby Station Road under VDOT’s Rural Rustic Road program. Rosen noted the plan shows VDOT doesn’t expect to fund the project until 2018. Paving the 100-year-old gravel road, Rosen said, eliminates unsafe conditions for vehicles such as mud, potholes and dust.

Peggy Snyder of Broadway Court, Linden, in the Skyland Estates subdivision, told the board some of neighborhood roads are eroded and unsafe. The neighborhood has a problem with potholes, dust and standing water in ditches, she said. Snyder noted that the neighborhood is a private subdivision.

The board unanimously approved the roads plan.

In response to concerns about Steed Lane no longer appearing on the list for hard surfacing, Ed Carter, assistant residency administrator for VDOT, explained that the plan comes up each year and supervisors can change the list of priorities.

Likewise the board can add projects to the plan as money becomes available, Carter said. Board Chairman Archie Fox noted that not all residents understand the plan remains a changing document and the county can add or remove roads.

Carter presented the plan to the board for the hearing and answered questions about projects in the list as well as other road issues. Carter mentioned that this plan reflected for the first time in years the fact that the state could program funds for prioritized projects. Carter warned that the projected funds are amounts the state anticipates but has not yet collected.

Fox pointed out the apparent delay in funding.

“On the secondary system for Warren County, it seems like there’s not going to be very much money at all ’til 2017,” Fox said. “It seems like we’ve got to look at another four years before we even start considering very much improvement at all.”

Carter concurred with Fox and explained that limited funding in the Commonwealth Transportation Board category becomes available in the first year of the plan. The department doesn’t anticipate revenue in the categories of “formula secondary” and secondary unpaved” until 2017, Carter said.

“But last year we had zero in those columns,” Carter noted.

The VDOT official, in response to Fox, explained the focus of the project to improve Oregon Hollow Road. Carter said the agency is trying to address the heavily congested section of Oregon Hollow Road near Dismal Hollow Road that spans about 1½ miles, Carter said. The entire Oregon Hollow Road project covers more than two miles.

County Administrator Douglas Stanley added that the project goes to Khyber Pass and the entrance to Skyland Estates. The majority of the 800-vehicle-trips per day recorded on Oregon Hollow Road travel in that section, Stanley said.

Carter advised that sections of Oregon Hollow Road beyond the project would not be suitable for funding through VDOT’s Rural Rustic program. Additionally, the sections go through lower-lying areas close to waterways that could make improvements costly, Carter explained. The expense of making improvements to that side of Oregon Hollow Road would outweigh the benefits for years until traffic increases along that section, Carter said.

Fox also asked about Happy Creek Road inside Front Royal. Carter explained that the town has funds left over from a previous Happy Creek Road improvement project. Front Royal will put that money with additional funds to improve the road from the end of the prior work to town limits, Carter said. However, since the future Leach Run Parkway connects with Happy Creek Road, VDOT has to rework some of the design of the project, Carter added. VDOT will be working simultaneously on the town section as it designs and engineers the section of Leach Run Parkway in the county, Carter said.

Carter estimated VDOT wouldn’t begin engineering or acquiring necessary rights-of-way for the project until 2014.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com