County staff members will look into the costs of picking up the slack in yet another of the state’s underfunded duties—mowing and cleaning around roads.
Supervisors Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) has for months been pushing to supplement the Virginia Department of Transportation’s road cleaning and median mowing along major arteries, and Tuesday, Dec. 4, county supervisors voted unanimously to find out how much that would cost. County staff members will return to the Board of Supervisors with cost estimates.
Meyer pointed out that while the county has asked the state to give VDOT more money for mowing and cleaning, state legislators have already told county supervisors there is little or no chance of that happening. And he said the topic is “rather pressing”—for quality of life for Loudouners, and for economic development. He said executives from Airbus had told him they’re “afraid to bring clients to our facility at Beaumeade because of how terrible the streets look, and it’s an embarrassment to this county even though they’re obviously very happy on many fronts.”
“When we’re trying to pitch the Amazons of the world, the whoever else of the world, we want to make sure that we’re putting on our best face,” Meyer said. “And I’ll tell you, on our main roads in eastern Loudoun and in western Loudoun, if you look at the medians and right-of-ways, they are not well kept.”
Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling) agreed.
“In Sterling, we don’t have big HOAs, say as the Cascades HOA, CountrySide, or Brambleton … so we’re on our own. We do have the Sterling Foundation that does raise funds on their own to take care of most of the Sterling Boulevard area, but there’s gaps in their funding sometimes where they’re scraping by.”
While other supervisors were supportive of getting a cost estimate, they expressed hesitation about spending local money on another state responsibility. Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) pointed out that Loudoun already does something very unusual for Virginia counties—spend millions of local tax dollars every year building roads, nominally a state responsibility.
“And that’s because the General Assembly—not VDOT, the General Assembly—is shirking its responsibility to build the roads that they’re supposed to build. VDOT can only do what it can do with the money the General Assembly gives it,” Buona said. “This is the same thing.”
And he pointed out it has been a very rainy year, making it even more difficult to keep up with grass mowing. November was the wettest month since recordkeeping began in 1877.
But as County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) noted, unusual weather is increasingly usual. The country has seen record-setting year after record-setting year of precipitation and temperatures.
“Can anyone say global climate change?” Randall said.