Mount Jackson, VDOT discuss bridge project

MOUNT JACKSON — Town Council is holding preliminary discussions with the state on replacing the Route 11 bridge.

Rod Shepard, chair of the town’s Finance Committee, and town Finance Director/Treasurer Neil Showalter met with members of the Virginia Department of Transportation in Edinburg on Feb. 2 to discuss the project.

Shepard said at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting that the discussions are “going well” and, he added, VDOT understands what the town is looking for in regards to the new bridge, which Shepard called “the southern gateway to Mount Jackson.”

“Speculation is that construction will start in 2018,” Shepard said, adding that VDOT has “begun some preliminary engineering work on it.”

He said VDOT will hold a public hearing on the project sometime later this year.

Shepard noted that the VDOT-rendered concept drawings featured plans to implement a bike path on the new bridge.

Another aspect that Shepard said was discussed in the VDOT meeting was the possibility of considering sidewalks for the bridge.

At the moment, the Route 11 bridge in Mount Jackson does not have sidewalks in or around it. Shepard asked, “Do we want to extend sidewalks a little bit over the next two years down to that bridge?”

According to Showalter, VDOT representatives suggested that the new bridge might be along the lines of how VDOT handled the bridges in Front Royal.

“They suggested that some of the work would look similar … with the stone work and environmental-looking guardrail,” Showalter explained.

He said that preliminary estimated costs were not discussed at the meeting.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the financial audit for fiscal year 2014 was discussed. Shepard said the town is in a solid financial position.

The auditor, Robinson, Farmer, Cook Associates, noted that about 44 percent of the town’s yearly expenditures are in cash reserves, Shepard said.

These savings, he said, are enough to “run the town for almost half of a year” and are better than the 20 percent average of towns in the area.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com