Budget amendment could fund Hillsville road

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

RICHMOND — Improvements to a proposed connector road to the Hillsville bypass got a foot in the door of the state budget recently.

As their last official act before terms expired in December, four members of the Carroll Board of Supervisors asked the General Assembly to provide funding to connect U.S. 221 and Virginia 100 via Virginia 669.

They want it to be built at the same time as construction to widen U.S. 58 to four lanes on the south side of Hillsville.

The supervisors “request and beseech that [the connector road project] receive funding at the earliest opportunity, to realize the convenience and safety this connector would provide for our citizens and the traveling public,” the resolution stated.

Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, D-Henry County and member of the Senate Finance Committee, acted on the request by proposing a budget amendment.

Inserted in the hundreds of pages of the state budget was a provision to include $12 million from the Commonwealth Transportation Fund for proposed improvements to Virginia 669.

This was the only way that Reynolds could foresee the road project gaining funding and moving ahead.

The dilemma that all road construction projects in rural Virginia face is insufficient construction funds, Reynolds said in a telephone interview from Richmond.

It’s like the Hillsville bypass funding itself, which had to be included in budgets proposed by then-Gov. Mark Warner and Gov. Tim Kaine in two successive years before it was approved for construction, the senator added.

“The only problem with it being in the six-year plan is there’s no money,” Reynolds said. “There’s no money for construction in the six-year plan, and there’s not going to be any under the present scheme.”

Several people from Carroll County talked to Reynolds around the time in the fall that construction efforts began on the Hillsville bypass — an approximately 5.5 mile stretch of four-lane road on the south side of town.

They shared with Reynolds that improving the linking road from the interchange 221 and 100 to the Hillsville bypass would better enable the connector road to handle the increased traffic load and make the road safer, the senator recalled.

If it’s not done, officials expect “significant hazards” will exist as more traffic attempts to make its way though to use the Hillsville bypass.

So Reynolds brought up the matter at a state transportation meeting in Salem and talked to Virginia Department of Transportation Salem District Administrator Richard Caywood about the matter.

Caywood provided an estimate, including inflationary pressures, for construction on the road.

Reynolds wasn’t sure how likely is it that the General Assembly would approve — and the governor would sign — a budget bill including $12 million for the Hillsville bypass connector road.

“I’ll do the best I can — that’s all I can tell you,” the senator said.

“That would be great if that were funded,” County Administrator Gary Larrowe said. “That would bring Route 100 into the 58 corridor a lot easier and better.”

The $83 million Hillsville bypass construction is underway by contractor Branch Highways. It is scheduled to be completed by 2011.