Warren County approves road priorities

By Alex Bridges

Shenandoah Farms again dominates Warren County’s priorities list for road upgrades through a state program.

The Board of Supervisors earlier this week approved a list that prioritizes projects through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Rural Addition Program. Through the program, the county and property owners share half the cost for improvements that would allow VDOT to take the roads into the state system. VDOT covers the remaining 50 percent of the costs.

Of the 10 roads prioritized for the Rural Addition Program, eight are in the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District.

Fortsmouth House Club, South River Estates and Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District submitted applications seeking inclusion into the latest priority list. South River Estates subsequently withdrew its application.

The approved priority list consists of Valley Overlook Court and Lower View Road in the Lower Valley Subdivision; and, in Shenandoah Farms, Phase I of Pine Ridge Road, Phases II-IV of Old Oak Lane, Copenhaver Road, Phase I of Western Lane and Farm View Road.

Each of the roads on the list spans less than one half mile, though improvements would affect several dozen homes along the rural routes, according to information from the county.

Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress pointed out Friday that all neighborhoods wishing to participate in the program had the chance to apply.

“The long and short of it is that’s exactly what happened,” Childress said. “The Shenandoah Farms community, the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District, is far and away the largest subdivision in the county.”

The Shenandoah Farms Property Owners Association asked the county to look at 17 roads while the Lower Valley representatives applied for six or seven, Childress said. Not all roads requested for improvements made the cut, he noted.

The list prioritizes roads either connected to routes maintained by VDOT or adjacent to those set to join the state system in the future.

Childress said the previously approved capital improvement plan for the sanitary district includes some of the roads in the prioritized list.

“The others are certainly part of the network of roadways that ultimately end up in that Shenandoah Farms Capital Improvement Plan,” Childress said.

The county sets aside $250,000 each fiscal year to help cover its share of the cost toward rural addition projects. Childress noted that the amount in the budget would not go far to pay for the projects in the list.

Supervisors at the meeting also adopted a resolution indicating the county’s intent to apply for more than $1 million through VDOT’s Revenue Sharing Program for fiscal 2015. Through the program a jurisdiction shares the cost of transportation projects with VDOT.

Specifically, the county has requested the funds to help cover the cost of the first five projects on the Rural Addition list — Pine Ridge Road Phase I, Valley Overlook Court, Old Oak Lane Phases II and III and Fellows Drive. The total cost of the projects comes to more than $2 million. Property owners in the subdivisions or the sanitary district would pay $507,875 toward the cost, as would the county. VDOT covers the rest.

“It may take a couple of fiscal years,” Childress noted.

Sarah Canfield Fuller, of 128 Valley Overlook Court, spoke during the public comment period as a resident of Lower Valley subdivision and as president of the Fortsmouth House Club. The association represents homeowners of Lower Valley and Passage Creek Meadows subdivisions.

Residents covered the cost to pave some of the neighborhood roads in the past. However, the homeowners association can’t afford to make more improvements, Canfield Fuller said. The association then applied to the county for help and worked with residents to come up with the required 25 percent share of the costs. Canfield-Fuller noted that enough residents stepped up to voluntarily contribute to pay for road improvements.

“I just wanted to say that we’re actually very pleased and excited that we have at least one road and possibly more in our community where we have enough residents who are going to voluntarily donate to the project, as well as contributions from the homeowners association, that we’ll actually be able to get more roads into the system,” Canfield-Fuller said. “I’ve also been told by fellow residents on our road in particular that were very excited by the possibility that we will not be stuck at the bottom when it is snowy and icy because it is difficult to properly plow a gravel road compared to a paved road.”

Childress advised the board that most of the roads in the list approved in 2010 have been constructed and turned over to VDOT, or are nearing completion.

The South River Estates Home Owners Association had applied for the program but subsequently withdrew its request to include Dorn Road and Martin Road on the list.

Supervisors appointed Jim Guy, Bryan Chrisman, Ralph Renaldi, Doug Rosen and Joy Feldmeire as road reviewers for the priority list on Oct. 8. The committee met with staff to review 17 roads or segments within the developments for possible upgrades and inclusion in the county’s Rural Addition Program.

Reviewers also inspected each road submitted for consideration. The committee adopted 10 of the original 17 roads or segments submitted based on criteria such as access from existing VDOT roads, terrain, right-of-way availability, utility conflicts, drainage, environmental concerns, number of homes served, traffic counts, length, constructability, the current condition and costs.

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