VDOT wants Blue Ridge Shadows to improve bridge

FRONT ROYAL – Blue Ridge Shadows developers need to improve the bridge into the neighborhood to appease state transportation officials.

Representatives of D.R. Horton Inc. spoke to the Warren County Planning Commission on Wednesday in reference to the developer’s request to rezone approximately 36 acres of Blue Ridge Shadows property to allow for the construction of 75 age-targeted homes in lieu of market-rate residences as previously approved. The rezoning covers the proposed Community 2 of the development.

Prince William County attorney John Foote represents D.R. Horton, the developer based in McLean. Foote presented the developer’s request to the commission as members considered advertising the required public hearing for the rezoning. But the discussion quickly veered into the subject of the bridge on Shadows Drive that leads into the golf course.

Planning Department Director Taryn Logan explained Thursday that the subdivision of the property required that roads meet design standards and specifications as set by the Virginia Department of Transportation in order for the agency to accept the streets into the state highway system. Shadows Drive was platted as the main subdivision road into the development from U.S. 340-522.

Foote commented at the commission meeting that the developers have been trying for roughly two years to work with VDOT on bringing the bridge to state standards.

VDOT bridge engineer Rex L. Pearce states in an Aug. 31 letter to Logan that the agency would not accept the crossing into the state system until the developers correct a number of problems identified with the design.

“Inadequate construction methods have delivered a structurally/aesthetically sub-standard product for the prefabricated truss bridge and wall system,” Pearce states in the letter. “Corrections to the conditions described herein, including all final inspection items found in the June 30, 2014 report referenced above – and any new concerns arising in the 2-years since – will be resolved. These items minimally include; failed deck overlay, peeling superstructure paint, missing guardrail bolts, are necessary if VDOT is to receive this structure into the inventory.”

Pearce requests that the developers again submit a solution for VDOT’s review and approval prior to implementing the suggested measures.

“This solution is to include, but not limited to, a redundant retention system for poorly-constructed wingwalls due to indeterminate capacity (such as soil nails), layered re-introduction of lost fill, structural keeper at wingwall/abutment interface, resolution of all drainage issues described including assurance that abutment stem-wall weep holes have been installed, curbing, joint seals, deck overlay, paint touch-up,” Pearce goes on to state.

The bridge remains safe in spite of the design not meeting VDOT standards, the D.R. Horton representatives told the commission.

The original rezoning as approved calls for 225 market-rate housing units. Voluntary conditions or proffers that called for a golf course, clubhouse and residential units remain in place. The maximum number of units would remain at 225 with 149 market-rate and 75 as age-targeted should the county approve the new rezoning request. Units for the 75 in Community 2 would contain a minimum of 2,000 square feet.

So far, the developer has constructed 81 single-family homes and 24 townhouses, according to information provided by Foote. The original proffers state that the developer must build an entrance into the subdivision off Toray Drive on or before the county issues building permits for the 150th unit. Shadows Drive remains the only access point. The developer sought a variance from the county requirement that at least three entrances serve the subdivision. The Planning Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve the variance request with several conditions, including the construction of an entrance feature at Shadows Drive; acceptance of Shadows Drive into the state system within two years; and approval of the emergency-access easement by property owners within six months. Supervisors held a public hearing on the variance but postponed action on the request.

The applicant continues to negotiate with neighboring property owners for the easement from Reliance Road. Foote indicated that the applicant has not been able to work out a solution for the easement.

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