Residents back paving Ashby Station Road

FRONT ROYAL – More than a dozen Warren County residents asked state transportation officials this week to keep their roads on the radar for improvements.

The Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to adopt a resolution to approve the Secondary Six-Year Plan for fiscal 2018 to 2023 and the Secondary System Construction Budget for 2018. Supervisors held a public hearing on the roads plan and budget prior to taking the vote. Edwin Carter, assistant residency administrator for the Virginia Department of Transportation, gave a presentation on the county’s plan. Supervisors met in a recent work session with VDOT representatives to talk about the plan.

County Administrator Doug Stanley commented on the proposed plan and an apparent lack of money to cover the priorities.

“I think the unfortunate thing is that our funding continues to lag well behind what our needs are,” Stanley said.

Supervisors have asked VDOT for funding through the state’s cost-sharing program to help pay for projects. The county can expect to receive no such funds for secondary-road projects this coming year, Stanley said. The program funding made it possible to complete improvements to sections of Blue Mountain Road this year, Stanley noted.

The plan includes ongoing projects – the replacement of the Morgan Ford Bridge over the Shenandoah River and improvements to Happy Creek Road. The bridge project remains on schedule for completion by the end of the year, Carter said. The construction program shows funding for the $10.5 million Happy Creek Road project spread out through fiscal 2022.

Ashby Station Road runs from Milldale Road and U.S. 340-522 north of Front Royal. The route crosses railroad tracks and Rockland Road and features several, sharp curves. The plan shows funding allocated for improvements to Ashby Station Road in fiscal 2020 and 2021 to cover the $305,000 cost. The project calls for reconstruction of a one-mile stretch of the road.

Ashby Station Road residents spoke during the public hearing in support of paving their road as listed in the plan. Randolph Leach Jr. said the section on which he lives can be treacherous, especially when it snows. C. Douglas “Doug” Rosen lives on Ashby Lane, a paved road maintained by VDOT. However, Rosen pointed out that Ashby Lane connects to the gravel-surfaced section of Ashby Station Road. Rosen said he supports the paving of Ashby Station Road. Rosen, a former county planning commissioner and now member of the School Board, lauded VDOT’s efforts to maintain Ashby Station Road. The road’s gravel surface poses many maintenance problems, Rosen said.

Ashby Station Road resident William Petersen said he opposed a plan to pave his route. Residents on the south side of Ashby Station Road would absorb any loss of property as a result of paving the route, Petersen said. The resident said some motorists who travel on Ashby Station Road off Ashby Lane “lose control” and drive well above the 35-mph speed limit. Richard Gerbich said he lives at the corner of Ashby Lane and Ashby Station Road and spoke in support of paving, citing problems with dust.

Mary “Susie” Huson, also of Ashby Lane, said she supports paving Ashby Station Road, noting the potholes that appear on the gravel route. Heavy rains also can exacerbate the drainage problem on the road, she said. Greg Huson called the gravel section a “hazardous road” that needs paving. Greg Huson said traffic has increased with the closing of Morgan Ford Road at the bridge.

Longtime Ashby Lane resident Walter Scott Reed Jr. said Ashby Station Road serves as a major access route for two local golf courses. The road’s condition wears down tires faster than normal and drivers are often seen weaving to avoid potholes.