Drivers haven’t been able to cut through the Town of Hillsboro along Rt. 9 for five weeks and they might not be able to do so until later this summer, as construction crews work to complete more on the town’s traffic calming project during the initial phase than initially planned.
The $14.33 million project will install two roundabouts on either end of town, bury utility lines and fill in missing links of sidewalk—all to be complete by May or June 2021. Archer Western Corp. is handling that work, which began on March 4. Since then, crews have installed five of eight utility vaults, 30 of 96 stormwater drain structures, 10 of 16 stormwater crossings and six of 13 retaining walls. They’ve also dug out a good portion of the eastern roundabout. Upwards of 50 crew members have been working on the project, some spending 13-hour days in town.
Vice Mayor Amy Marasco, the deputy project manager, said crews are making “really great progress” on the project.
Since May 4, the half-mile stretch of Rt. 9 through Hillsboro has been entirely closed to through traffic. That closure followed a March 31 water main break that saw Shirley Contracting crews install a temporary above-ground main, which the Virginia Department of Health required to be fixed permanently right away. While the original plan expected the water system to be fully transferred to the new main by November, Marasco said Shirley crews should have that work done by the third week of June.
The highway through town will remain closed until at least that point. Marasco said the town is working with Archer and VDOT to determine how much more work crews could complete if the road remains closed entirely through town until mid-August. She said the town is eyeing that extension because crews have completed more work during the full closure than originally planned, because it’s safer for crews to work longer days in the summer, because school is out, and because that would mean the highway through town could partially reopen in the fall, when area businesses like wineries see an uptick in visits.
During the current full road closure, in-town residents have accounted for the only traffic using the highway through town, aside from unauthorized vehicles passing through on the weekends, Marasco said. While residents have been picking up their mail at temporary mailboxes outside the Old Stone School, town staffers have been delivering packages directly to residents’ doorsteps by walking along the highway, which is covered in dirt and is pocked by 15-foot-deep holes.
Mayor Roger Vance, the project manager, said the town is hoping to complete work on the duct banks this summer, at which point Verizon and Dominion Energy will begin their 180-day installations of electric lines. Crews have also installed an empty conduit for future broadband connectivity in town.
Vance said town leaders are unsure about when a second full highway closure through town will be, since the original construction schedule was abandoned when the water main broke and forced the town to implement a premature full closure.