Hillsboro-area residents, business owners, visitors and commuters will have to continue detouring the town until mid-August.
VDOT this week approved Hillsboro’s request to extend the full closure of Rt. 9 in town through Aug. 15 so that Archer Western Corp. construction crews can complete more work on the town’s traffic calming and pedestrian safety project. The initial closure permit had been scheduled to expire Friday.
According to a town statement, the extended closure eliminates the need to close the highway again later this year. Mayor Roger Vance stated the extended closure could allow the town to reopen the highway to two-way traffic by late November, when area agrobusinesses are busiest, according to the town’s statement.
“It’s simply common sense and good governance to maximize productivity during this extraordinary time when traffic remains light, schools are closed, the weather is favorable, and we have extended daylight,” Vance stated.
Once the highway is reopened on Aug. 16, a period of partial closures will begin, allowing for eastbound traffic to pass through town from 4-9:30 a.m. on weekdays and westbound traffic to pass through town from Friday afternoons to Sunday evenings.
Come 2021, Rt. 9 through town will be closed its entirety one final time for a “short period,” according to the town’s statement. That will happen closer to the project’s completion in early spring.
The town’s $14.33 million Rt. 9 road project—which is installing two roundabouts on either end of town, burying utility lines and filling in missing links of sidewalk—began March 4 but was sidelined less than a month later when work on the water project broke the town’s water main in multiple spots. The Virginia Department of Health subsequently required the town to fix the issue immediately. To do that, town leaders opted to close both lanes of the highway through town starting May 4.
While work on that main should wrap up this Friday, according to the town’s statement, town leaders midway through that process realized that extending the closure would allow for more work to get done in a safer, less-traveled time of year.
Before the project began, Hillsboro leaders announced that Rt. 9 through town would remain open with only flagging operations in place through late summer or early fall. Partial and full road closures through town at that time were scheduled to begin after that point and stretch through May 2021.
From the beginning, several area business owners have expressed concern about the work and how closing the highway through town for any amount of time would be detrimental to their businesses. Once the town last month announced a tentative plan to extend the current full closure through mid-August, some business owners became even more vocal about their concerns and frustrations, claiming town leaders have changed closure plans on a whim, been unresponsive to their concerns, and have neglected to announce such decisions in a more public manner.
To help support those businesses, the town launched an initiative to usher in visitors during road closures.