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Warren County touts road projects

By Alex Bridges

Years of planning and more than $1 million later and residents of Shenandoah Farms have some smoother roads.

County officials celebrated the completion of improvements to Fellows Drive, Young's Drive, Mountain Lake Drive and Tomahawk Way -- all projects listed in the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District Capital Improvements Program. All but Tomahawk Way are in the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District. Tomahawk Way serves as a primary access point for district residents through the adjacent Blue Mountain Sanitary District.

County officials and representatives of the neighborhood celebrated with a ribbon cutting Monday at the intersection of Young's Drive and Fellows Drive.

Patrick Skelley, president of the board for the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District, said Tuesday the feedback from residents remains positive.

"We're excited about the progress," Skelley said.

Several Warren County school buses drove by on the newly paved roads during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Skelley pointed out. The improvements now allow bus drivers to make a loop through the neighborhood rather than having to back up their vehicle to return to the main road. Skelley noted that this also takes the children from Howellsville Road.

Skelley acknowledged that the process to improve the roads to state standards is slow and that the projects recently completed cover only 1.11 miles of the 44 miles in the sanitary district. But he said the impact appears significant.

"So we're looking forward to just creeping along and chipping away at it," Skelley said. "It also shows some progress."

But as Skelley explained, the property owners association found itself "putting out fires all the time" by spending dues to make piecemeal road improvements.

Property owners in the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District covered $324,051 of the total estimated cost of $1.24 million for all four projects completed in the Rural Addition program. All roads were upgraded and reconstructed to provide an 18-foot-wide paved surface with 2-foot-wide tabilized shoulders. The work also included culverts, private-entrance pipes as well as ditches where needed.

Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress indicated in a news release the projects were completed on time and within budget. Childress developed the projects and oversaw construction while continuing his daily work as the district manager. After years of planning the road projects, work began in early September. General Excavation Inc., of Warrenton, worked on the roads and drainage improvements. Winchester-based Carroll Construction Company Inc. put down the asphalt. Crews completed the projects in mid-November, Childress said.

Childress stated in the news release he has heard positive feedback about the projecgt results from members of the property owner's association board and other residents in the community. He credited the mild weather and the contractors' understanding of the county's schedule.

The county worked with the property owners association and the Virginia Department of Transportation to begin improving roads in the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District with a goal of bringing the rural, mostly gravel routes up to certain standards. Once achieved, the state can then take over the maintenance of the paved roads, including snow removal and repairs. The county and the sanitary district homeowners association would no longer need to cover the maintenance costs.

Under the cost-sharing program with VDOT, the state picks up 50 percent of the eligible costs of the projects.

County Administrator Douglas Stanley touted the cost-sharing program as a way for the jurisdiction to administer these projects at a lower cost than VDOT.

County officials say planning the next improvements has begun. VDOT approved funding for the first phase of Old Oak Lane from Manor Drive to Mosby Meadow Lane and improvements should begin late next summer. The county has applied to VDOT for funding improvements on Pine Ridge Road between Mountain Lake Drive and Copenhaver Drive; Fellows Drive between Flynn Drive and Farms River Road; and Old Oak Lane between Mosby Meadow Lane and Venus Branch.

Childress said Tuesday he would expect construction on remaining projects to move forward in 2016, depending on the funding from the state.

The county's goal calls for the construction of one or two new, paved roads in the sanitary district each year, funding permitted.

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

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