Letter: Brian Ward, Sweet Springs Country Store

Editor: I am writing regarding your Sept.5, edition specifically the front-page article on Rt. 9 and the accompanying editorial. First, I’d like to congratulate Mayor Vance and the citizens of Hillsboro for the over decade of work it took to get this project started.  Mayor Vance has been instrumental in this effort and I admire the determination and hard work on behalf of his constituents. 

I own and operate Sweet Springs County Store on Rt. 9 west of Hillsboro. My business will be affected by either option, a total closure of the road or the option to keep one lane open. I estimate my motor fuel sales will be down by 60 percent and my inside non fuels sales down 40 percent. I expect to lose money each month of the closure or at best break even, which will result in layoffs.

I am inclined to support a total closure of the road in order to get the project completed sooner and to support my neighbors and customers in Hillsboro who seem to favor that. What I call the “get it over with” approach. But, before I can get behind that, I’d like to know how stakeholders are assured that the project is completed in nine months, and nine months doesn’t turn into 12 or 13? Are there incentives written in the contract, so the contractor is incentivized to get the project completed in the nine-month time frame?

I’m not the only stakeholder in this important decision. I can imagine that the wineries and breweries west of Hillsboro will favor the one lane open approach as most of their customers come from northern Virginia and on weekends. I can also imagine that the residents of Loudoun west of Hillsboro may also favor that approach as their commute will be longer. I was glad to hear Mayor Vance say, “Everything is on the table—we’ve got to look at all options.” I anxiously wait to hear what those other options are?

Regarding the response from Clarke County, I think what they fail to appreciate (with respect) is that even with keeping one lane open the resulting backups from that approach is going to drive traffic their way regardless. The backups from keeping one lane open will be horrendous. The timing of the red lights to get people through a long construction zone safely will lead many commuters to find an alternative route, instead of having extra traffic for six or nine months they may have it for up to three years. I suggest they drive theroad during either rush hour to gain a better understanding of how much traffic goes through the small town of Hillsboro and the stop and go traffic that already exist.

Brian Ward, Sweet Springs Country Store

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