Town Must Adjust Road Work

Published 4:48 pm Thursday, May 30, 2013

FARMVILLE – The Town of Farmville was hoping to get more street miles to the Virginia Department of Transportation's funding gallon.

Town Council applied for $253,999 in funds from VDOT's revenue sharing program but the “cash gauge” isn't even half empty.

Full funding would have targeted improvements on Germantown Road from High Street to the Corporate limits (.6 miles), Second Street from Main Street to Cedar Avenue (.7 miles), Doswell Street from Second Street to the end of the road (.3 miles), Cedar Avenue from Second Street to East Third Street (.15 miles), and East Third Street from Cedar Avenue to Milnwood Road (.65 miles).

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The total proposed street improvements were 2.4 miles, with the work planned for this spring, following on the heels of last summer's work on High Street, Griffin Boulevard and South Main.

Those projects are still on the Town's radar but VDOT drastically cut its revenue sharing monies, leaving the Town to continue its pursuit of funds to address all of the street work on the list.

“They've cut the money. They're only going to fund 25 percent,” Town Manager Gerald Spates told The Herald. “So we're going to get enough money, probably, to do Second Street and Cedar Avenue…We're hoping to do the other ones but we won't be able to do them with revenue sharing funds. I'm not saying that that's the only project-that's the only project we're going to be able to do with the revenue sharing. So we're still hoping to be able to do those other streets that we had proposed, but it won't be with revenue sharing money.”

The work schedule will see the road work done either late this summer or next spring, according to Spates, even for the revenue sharing-funded work.

Town officials and Town Council were optimistic in November when prioritizing which streets to improve with the VDOT funds.

“Last year (2011) we applied to VDOT for a revenue sharing project, which is a 50-50 grant from the state,” Spates told Town Council members during their November work session, “and that's when we did High Street, Griffin Boulevard, South Main; we did those streets with that money. (VDOT) paid for half of it…Those streets were about seven hundred and some thousand dollars, so they picked up half the tab.”

Spates said the listed street improvements are what the Town would “like to do this year,” but he recognized citizens have their own wish list for street improvements.

“I had a lady call me from The Avenues, wanting to know when we're going to do The Avenues like we did High Street,” Spates recounted last fall. “Well, you know, you've got to start somewhere and hopefully next year we'll do The Avenues…do some of the residential areas, maybe spread it around town.

“What we tried to do was pick the busiest streets first,” the town manager said, explaining the rationale for the proposed street improvements.

“The Avenues are in fairly good shape,” Spates continued. “…I'd rather address the main roads first.”

With a note of irony, Spates recalled the increase in complaints he received about speeding after the last improvements to First Avenue.

“It's like a superhighway,” commented council member Tommy Pairet during that November work session.

Discussing the financial benefits of doing the street improvements through the VDOT Revenue Sharing program, Spates noted that the Town receives annual street maintenance money from the state. “The advantage to this program is you can get double your street maintenance money by going with revenue sharing because the state pays, again, half of the cost to do these streets…You're getting a dollar for dollar match on your paving. If you had a couple of million dollars you could go and do a lot of streets.”

With the Town's dollar for dollar match, the street improvements this year would have totaled $507,998.

But not anymore, not with VDOT funding 25 percent of the Town's revenue sharing request.

Council member Jamie Davis had asked that Jackson Street, which takes traffic to the Confederate Cemetery in Jackson Heights, be included in future street improvement. He cited increased traffic to the site since the opening of High Bridge.

“We'll make sure we get it this spring,” Spates had said during November's regular council meeting.

Responding to a November request from council member Donald L. Hunter, Spates suggested Town Council members provide a prioritized, or ranked, list of street improvements sought in each of their Wards.

“I think it would be good to involve each council member from each Ward, if you have any particular streets you would like to see done and rank them that way,” the town manager said.

And then cross fingers and perhaps toes for VDOT funds.