VDOT adds 'rural rustic' roads to highway plan

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State can pave several gravel roads in Carroll County, thanks to change in funding formula.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Adding several rural rustic road improvement projects to the Carroll County six-year plan may be the way to go, as the Virginia Department of Transportation sees a new influx of funding for roads.
VDOT’s Dan Huff, Hillsville area land use engineer; and Lisa Hughes, regional residency administrator over Carroll, appeared at the Carroll Board of Supervisors’ meeting April 14 to share a draft of the secondary road six-year plan and the 2014-2015 project priority list.
Before holding a public hearing, the transportation department officials noted that, in addition to the approximately $3.35 million dedicated to the widening of Coulson Church Road east of Interstate 77’s Exit 19, the other 25 proposed projects fall under the rural rustic road improvement program.
“Rural rustic” designation allows existing gravel roads to be paved in place with less preparation than standard improvement projects. Hughes told The Gazette after the meeting this makes it the more “flexible alternative” to putting a hard surface on unpaved roads.
“Rural rustic road projects focus on providing a hard surface while leaving trees and vegetation undisturbed to the maximum extent possible without compromising public safety,” she explained. “Roads may be paved within existing rights of way without any requirement to adhere to a set design standard.”
This plan should help VDOT officials tackle paving roads “faster and cheaper than the traditional reconstruction method,” Hughes added.
The draft six-year list includes rural rustic projects on sections of: Pridemore Road, Crestwood Drive, Sherwood Road, Burnette Road, Bronco Road, Wolfpen Ridge Road, Bluestone Road, Freemont Road, Longwood Drive, Bent Nail Road, Cherokee Road, Staunton Drive, Trail Road, Woods Edge, Shady Valley Road, Cedarwood Road, Mountain Valley, Hemlock Ridge Road, Horseshoe Bend, Patriot Drive, Beck Hollow Road, Chisholm Creek Road, Appleton Road, Round Hill Road and Hunters Ridge.
However, the draft only shows funding available for projects up to Burnette Road in 2014-2015.
Another potential project on Brushy Fork Road had to be left off due to issues with the right of way donation. VDOT officials recommended spending those funds on other improvement projects.
The new proposed projects result from the approval of House Bill 2313 under Gov. Bob McDonnell’s tenure, which revised the funding mechanism for transportation projects in 2013, Hughes confirmed.
“Five percent of the first $500 million generated by the new revenue is to be dedicated to paving unpaved roads carrying more than 50 vehicles per day,” she explained. “In the original legislation, the threshold was 200 vehicles per day, but this year, it was amended to a count of 50. That was good news for Carroll County.”
In all, Carroll has more than 200 miles of unpaved roads, Hughes said.
The supervisors did not take action on the six-year plan proposal at the April meeting.

Road requests from the April 14 public hearing:

• Mike Winegarden requested improvements for Round Hill Road, according to information shared by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
He had concerns about factors that drive up usage of the road — more houses, more traffic, school bus traffic, poor road conditions. He also described Round Hill as a great short cut between the Blue Ridge Parkway and neighboring roads.
Jerry and Archie Hall also filled out card on Round Hill Road, but did not speak.

• Jim White asked for improvements to parts of Virginia 608, which has a high volume of commercial traffic because those vehicles are prohibited from the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway.
VDOT officials noted after the meeting that the sections of road that White asked for improvements on fall within the boundaries of the parkway. That means the transportation department would need permission from the National Park Service to carry out a project on those parts of 608.

• Connie Padgett asked for improvements to Mountain Valley Road, citing the idea that it’s difficult for two school buses that meet to pass each other.

• Bob Spenser asked for hard surfacing to Park Bridge Road, because he thought it might be “more economical to pave” than sending out a motor grader for regular maintenance on the road.

• Tom Tabor filled out a card expressing an interest in improvements to Bluestone Road, which is on the draft six-year plan.