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VDOT Plan Gets Approval

CUMBERLAND – County Supervisors held their joint public hearing with the Virginia Department of Transportation in June on Cumberland's Six-Year Secondary Road Plan.

The plan proposes very limited funding from the state for the next six years and most of the comments voiced from citizens were about the delayed improvements to Jenkins Church Road (Route 624)-an unpaved road in the county.

The reason for the delay, according to VDOT, is that federally-funded projects have been scheduled ahead of state-funded projects, which has caused a delay in the Route 624 rural-rustic road project, which already had enough funds identified in the plan to complete the project.

The project had been scheduled for contract in 2010 and then later delayed until 2011. The entire project has now been delayed until the spring of 2012.

Cumberland Supervisors have had Jenkins Church Road as a priority on the Six-Year Plan since 2008.

VDOT's local liaison, Jorge Huckabee-Mayfield, and Programming Director, Randy Hamilton, attended the joint hearing.

Six-Year Discussion

Hamilton addressed the Board and described that the Six-Year Plan is not a construction plan for the County but “rather an allocation plan.”

According to his review of the plan, the only funding Cumberland will see is telecommunications funding.

The plan includes: Route 610, Duncan Store Road; a bridge replacement on Plank Road and then Route 624, Jenkins Church Road, a rural rustic road project, which was delayed this spring.

Telecommunications funding to be received by Cumberland in the first year of the Six-Year Plan is $36,453. After that, the total decreases in the second year to $34,342, which carries on out for the remainder of the plan until 2017.

According to Hamilton, the cost to build a mile of road depends on the area of construction.

“We are looking at a mile of road in another county that is looking at amounting to about $6 million counting the right-of-way,” said Hamilton when asked about cost estimates and the small amount of funding Cumberland will be receiving in the future.

Supervisor Bill Osl, District One, asked Hamilton to reiterate the amount allocated to Cumberland's secondary road plan.

He then, again, noted that the County would receive $36,453 this fiscal year to assist with roads in Cumberland.

“Fifty (years) maybe,” said Osl about getting a road completely constructed and paved in Cumberland with that amount of money received each year to Hamilton.

“It's ridiculous,” added Supervisor Elbert Womack, District Four, about the Six-Year Plan process.

Once the public hearing was opened, there were a few citizen speakers who addressed VDOT.

Vera Howard, a resident of Bonbrook Creek Road, addressed VDOT about her road concerns.

“We are trying to get Jenkins Church Road because that connects with Bonbrook Creek Road and when you are on your way to Richmond shopping or going east you have to go out of your way about anywhere from four to seven miles to make it to the next paved road,” she offered.

“…Where do we stand?” she asked about the status of the Jenkins Church Road rural rustic road project that was recently delayed by VDOT. “I'm not clear as to where we stand…It's beginning to be a real hazard. It needs to be paved and it needs to be done.”

Teresa Dabney, a resident of Jenkins Church Road, addressed VDOT about her frustration with the delayed status of Jenkins Church Road.

“If the road never gets tarred I'm not even going to worry about it anymore,” she said. “I hope ya'll lay in that dirt that ya'll have been letting us stay in.”

Next, Leroy Pfeiffer Sr. addressed the delay and asked that the Board of Supervisors and VDOT keep the road on the Six-Year Plan as a priority.

“Keep Jenkins Church Road as a priority in your plan so that we can go ahead and, hopefully, next year get this as a hard surface through the rural rustic improvement,” he said. “I'm just asking that you keep it as part of the Six-Year Plan.”

The public hearing was then closed and Hamilton did note that Jenkins Church Road, although the project has been delayed, does currently have an advertisement date of April 2012.

“That takes care of our public hearing,” he said. “But for Route 624, Jenkins Church Road, you are showing an April 2012 advertisement date.”

“When you say advertisement date-I think they are more concerned with construction,” noted Chairman Van Petty, District Three, about the concerns that were heard during the public hearing from citizens in that area.

Although the Board voiced their disappointment with the amount of funding allocated for Cumberland, a motion was made to approve the presented Six-Year Plan.

“We've got to work with what we've got,” said Osl. “We set the priorities and we don't have anything to do with the funding. I know VDOT doesn't either and I know it comes from other places in the Commonwealth so we've got to set our priorities…I move that we adopt them.”

Cumberland's Board then adopted the Six-Year Plan unanimously.