Fixing Roads Without Funds
Published 3:43 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2013
CUMBERLAND – Routes 45 and 60 may cut Cumberland into uneven quarters, but a slew of secondary roads branch out from them like a spider's web, joining together the homes, schools, old mills and small shops that are spread out across the county.
If you travel on any of those roads that begin with a six, you are travelling a secondary road. 600. 616. 654. You must travel them to visit Bear Creak Lake, Trents Mill or Fork of Willis Church.
The Virginia Department of Transportation has allotted $32,135 for the upkeep of secondary roads in Cumberland County. (Not much compared to funding received only six years ago.)
Email newsletter signup
And the board of supervisors gets to help decide how to prioritize the use of those funds.
The public is invited to provide input on those priorities during a public hearing to be held on July 9 at 7 p.m., during the board's next meeting.
While discussing when to hold the required public hearing last month, Supervisor Kevin Ingle, District Three, said he liked the idea of having it on a separate night, as a workshop.
However, Supervisor Bill Osl, District One, pointed out that the allocated amount was so small he felt a second meeting wasn't necessary. The board unanimously voted to hold the hearing during their next meeting following a motion made by Osl.
Three projects are currently listed on the draft Secondary Six-Year Plan.
Included, is reconstruction work on a 1.9-mile stretch of Duncan Store Road, Route 610, in northern Cumberland County, which is estimated to cost $1.57 million.
Also, the plan includes resurfacing Route 669, Criss Road, for 0.6 miles, which is projected to cost $120,182.
Resurfacing of a 3.2-mile length of Jenkins Church Road was completed last fall, after being on the plan for over five years, according to Assistant Residency Administrator for the Dillwyn Residency Scot Shippee.
According to the Secondary Six-Year Plan, the resurfacing costs just over half a million dollars. The project was fully funded through the plan, according to Shippee.
It is still included in the draft plan for this year. Projects stay in the plan until “financial closeout” and remaining funds have been transferred to a different project, Shippee explained.
“Due to the timing of the new Transportation Bill and the fact that most of the new money is available in the out years of the plan, this year's plan will likely stay as is and we will meet with the board of supervisors this winter to discuss and prioritize what can be added to next year's plan,” Shippee wrote in an email to The Herald.
The amount of funding for secondary roads, which wriggle and squirm across much of Cumberland County, has been decreasing over the years.
For example, the year that the Jenkins Church Road resurfacing project was added to the Secondary Six Year Plan, 2008, Cumberland received $634,732 in funding, according to Shippee.
This year, Cumberland is being allocated less than five percent of that amount, which is also roughly the same amount that it received last year.
However, Paula Jones, Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson, is hopeful that with the new transportation bill passed by the General Assembly this year, small counties such as Cumberland will see an increase in funding for secondary roads.
The estimated allocations in the draft secondary system construction program show a projected doubling of the funds over the next two years. They are then projected to grow to almost quadruple that amount for the final three years of the six-year plan, ending at nearly $300,000 the final year.
All told, the draft Six-Year Plan for secondary roads estimates that Cumberland will receive just less than $1 million dollars total over the next six years.
However, with the cost of reconstructing 1.9 miles of road slated to cost over one-and-a-half-times that amount, it is doubtful how far even a substantial increase in funding could go to strengthen the spider's web that is Cumberland's secondary roads.
Because the Fourth of July falls on a Thursday, the board voted four to one – with Supervisor Lloyd Banks, District Two, opposed – to close the County's offices on Friday, July 5, giving County employees an additional day off.
A public hearing was set by the board for their July 9 meeting, regarding a rezoning request for the site of a potential wholesale bakery on Route 60 near the Powhatan County line.
The board appropriated approximately $240,000 in funds during their June 11 meeting. The majority of those funds were local receipts and grant funds for the school.
The remaining appropriations were described by County Attorney and Administrator Vivian Giles as simply moving monies that were already received, from such places as the state and insurance companies, into the appropriate budget line items.