VDOT responds to criticism

Published 12:46 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) used some of the Highway Matters portion of the Nov. 8 Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors meeting to respond to critical input provided by some Prince Edward supervisors back in October prior to the arrival of Tropical Storm Michael.

During the board’s Oct. 9 meeting, Lockett District Supervisor Robert M. “Bobby” Jones offered some praise for VDOT’s response to heavy rains that washed out roads prior to the Oct. 9 meeting, but his main focus was in conveying a frank, negative assessment of VDOT’s mowing performance along roads in the area.

County Administrator Wade Bartlett said, “I don’t think that’s unique to Prince Edward.”

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Jones agreed that it is not.

“I think the state is trying to crunch some money somehow, and they just can’t handle what they need to do, and it’s something we pay taxes (on), and it should be taken care of,” he said.

Hampden District Supervisor Dr. Odessa Pride and Buffalo District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr. agreed with Jones that the job being done was not satisfactory.

Scot Shippee

VDOT Resident Engineer Scot Shippee was at the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors meeting Oct. 9 but returned to Prince Edward for the Nov. 8 board meeting.

His interactions with the board were amicable, and several board members had made a significant point to issue praise to VDOT for how it had handled the massive fallout in the county that came as a result of Tropical Storm Michael.

While Shippee did not address anyone’s comments in particular from the October meeting, he did address the subject of mowing.

“Obviously mowing is still a hot topic,” he said. “As soon as we gets folks cleaned up from our debris removal, we’ll get back on as quickly as we can. In the meantime, we’ve had crews from Buckingham County, Appomattox County providing assistance, trying to get our primaries cut, and we appreciate the assistance from them.”

He underscored just how much rainy weather has been a significant obstacle to VDOT taking care of its duties this summer.

“Interestingly enough, I went back and looked, and I wanted to give you a few rainfall statistics just to kind of show you what we’ve been dealing with this year,” he said. “Starting back in the month of June, we had rain, measurable rainfall 12 out of 30 days. We had about two-and-a-half weeks to get caught up mowing, get caught up on all of our maintenance work that requires dry weather. And then between mid-July and the and of August, we had roughly 17 out of 21 days being rain days. (We) had one week rain in September, and then October, we had roughly six working days before the hurricane hit, and we’ve been cleaning up that ever since.”

“So again, keep in mind the struggles that we’ve been having with that, and those dry days are not just for mowing — that’s when we have to tackle all the other big stuff that from a safety and investment standpoint is really a higher priority for us,” he continued. “I’m not saying mowing is not, but we’ve got to get the road surface adequate before we worry about the grass. One of the things I heard when I came to VDOT was that from a maintenance standpoint, we work from the center line out, so we try to keep that taken care of.”

Shippee conveyed assurances that the job will be done.

“We’ll continue to work as long as it takes to get us finished,” he said, acknowledging the approach of snow season. “I know next week our guys are going to be doing a lot of preventative maintenance and getting our equipment ready for snow season. That’ll be here long before you know it, but we’ll keep working on the mowing until we get it done.”