Lovettsville Council Advances Road Improvements, Delays Transportation Study

While the Town of Lovettsville has been updating its road system for the last few years, it’s now realizing that those improvements will cost a bit more than expected.

The Town Council last Thursday night voted unanimously to accept $420,000 from VDOT and to direct staff to request a yet-to-be-determined amount from the county to help fund the $2.6 million second phase of its Broad Way Improvements Project. The votes follow staff’s realization that up to $750,000 would additionally be needed for phase two. Town Engineer Karin Fellers said the increase comes mainly from an overall spike in project costs.

“Projects that are coming in for bid are coming in much higher than what everybody is estimating,” she said. “We need to get funding sources and these are the funding sources available.”

Although the town applied for $782,000 last November, VDOT offered only 54 percent of the request, up to $97,000 of which it will keep to pay its own expenses. The council voted to authorize former Interim Town Manager Larry Hughes to sign the agreement on Friday and accept that $420,000.

Fellers said that although the town now has those VDOT funds and has already budgeted $205,000 and received $330,000 from the county for the project, it’s still short $1.1 million.

To make up for this, the Town Council voted to direct staff to apply for additional funding from the county, which Fellers said could amount to $500,000. The town will also apply for $460,000 from VDOT in November 2019 and is expecting to receive an extra $700,000 from the county’s fiscal years 2017-2022 Capital Improvement Program.

Aside from the Town Council voting to accept and look for more money to fund Broad Way improvements, a motion to transfer $35,000 from the South Church Street/Pennsylvania Avenue Improvements Project into the fiscal year 2019 budget to fully fund a town-wide transportation study also died.

Zoning Administrator Josh Bateman recommended that the transfer be made because improvements to those roads could be put on hold until the transportation plan can better address them.

Councilman Mike Dunlap, however, argued that it’s not a good approach to fund the study by taking money from other road projects. “I’d rather have pavement before we collect more paper,” he said.

Mayor Nate Fontaine said that he was confused why council members were pushing the study back. He said that the town should have the study performed now so that it can present residents with possible solutions.

“I don’t see how doing that in reverse is going to be helpful,” he said. “I’d much rather have the consultants do the heavy lifting and the research and the engineering work for us and then we come to the public and say ‘these are the options.’”

Dunlap agreed that while the town will eventually need to have the study performed, it should focus on funding it and other projects via money from external sources rather than by internally transferring money from account to account.

The transfer would have gone along with an already-budgeted $25,000 and $5,372 that was previously set aside for non-reimbursable engineering expenses in fiscal years 2019-2020.

It would have fully funded a study that the EPR traffic engineering firm requested $65,372 to complete—$20,412 for data collection and analysis, $17,410 for community engagement and $27,550 to implement the report.

Although the study won’t move forward yet, Bateman said that the town continues to improve its road system.

The 23-home Villages at Lovettsville community will eventually add curbs, gutters, a sidewalk and a stormwater drainage system to South Locust Street and extend Pennsylvania Avenue by 400 feet.

The Loudoun West community will also eventually widen West Broad Way, while the Heritage Highlands community is already adding in an extra turn lane and extending the shared-use trail along Rt. 287. “We are making progress on our transportation network,” Bateman said.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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