County supervisors last week signed off on the Virginia Department of Transportation’s plans to pave three more gravel roads over the next six years.
The county and VDOT each year hold a joint public hearing on the state’s plans to maintain rural roads in Loudoun, and the state agency coordinates with the county government to set priorities for its projects. Nobody signed up to speak at this year’s public hearing.
Over the next six years, VDOT plans to pave Ticonderoga Road, Nixon Road and Cochran Mill Road, as well as continue improvements to the intersection of Evergreen Mills Road and The Woods Road.
The budget, which also includes some money for projects that have recently been completed, totals $7.5 million, with $373,000 available and not dedicated to a specific project. Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) suggested improvements to Quarter Branch Road near Lovettsville; Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) suggested Goshen Road near John Champe High School be targeted for funding. Letourneau called the traffic problem at the high school “a crisis out there that we’re dealing with every day.”
“We’ve expended significant county resources—sheriff’s office resources, [Loudoun County Public Schools] resources—trying to fix the circulation problem with John Champe High School,” Letourneau said.
Supervisors approved the list of projects as presented on an 8-0-1, with County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) absent. They also requested county staff members to provide cost estimates for paving Quarter Branch and Goshen roads.
A county report for the meeting also indicates that the state is falling behind in funding VDOT maintenance. According to the report, while an average of 45 to 50 miles of secondary roads are added to the state system every year, the General Assembly has not increased the funding for maintaining roads in Loudoun. In Fiscal Year 2020, the state has allocated $17.9 million to maintain paved and unpaved roads in Loudoun, the same as the previous fiscal year.
It isn’t the first instance the state has fallen behind its transportation responsibilities in Loudoun and the region. Although building roads is a state responsibility in Virginia, because of continued traffic jams in the region, the county government dedicates millions of local dollars to building roads, which it then hands over to VDOT. This year, roads make up more than half of the county government’s six-year capital budget plans at $1.2 billion.