Another long-awaited project finally is nearing work in Lucketts, and was the subject of a sometimes-contentious meeting Monday night.
In 2003, Congress allocated about $4 million to Rt. 15 improvements with a 10-year timeline to get a project started. Since then, about $1.4 million have been spent on studies and planning, and no project has begun. Instead, the federal government has granted an extension on that 10-year time limit—an extension which is now also nearing its end. That leaves VDOT with about $2.5 million to use or lose. The state agency has plans to use that money to build raised grass medians—“splitter islands”—just north and south of the village, along with drainage improvements.
A project with that money must be underway by April 21—or the state will have to pay back the $1.4 million it has already spent.
VDOT representatives faced questioning about why the project doesn’t do more, including building out plans for sidewalks and turn lanes. Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) said the project needs to move ahead regardless.
“We can go back and we can dig up all those bodies, 10 or 12 or 15 years ago, of which, fortunately, I’m not one of them, or we can move forward with this money that’s available now,” Higgins said.
One of the people who came to the meeting to question those plans was Democratic candidate to replace Higgins on the Board of Supervisors Forest Hayes, who suggested pushing for a second extension for the money.
“In that period of time, you’re talking more than 10 years, the realities on the ground have changed,” Hayes said. “That’s nobody’s fault. We’re just saying, let’s recognize that, let’s do something that’s actually going to be relevant and have value today.”
VDOT staff members at the meeting advised that a second extension is unlikely.
“Our thought process was … that it was preferable to do a part of the project in whole, rather than bits and pieces of it, which wastes time and money because you have to go back and do the same thing,” Higgins said. “Having said that, that doesn’t mean we can’t go back and do that.”
Feedback on both projects can be directed to the Board of Supervisors or Higgins by email; contact information for supervisors is at loudoun.gov/bos.