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Pride raises road concerns

Hampden District Supervisor Dr. Odessa Pride shared safety concerns she has regarding the condition of Abilene Road with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Resident Engineer Scott Frederick during the board’s regular October meeting.

Odessa Pride

Pride complimented Frederick and VDOT for the work done at the intersection from County Line Road headed south to Keysville, and then she began to address her concerns.

“I traveled on Darlington Heights Road, and what I’m getting ready to say is no reflection on the individuals from Darlington Heights Road, but they were repainting those outside white lines,” she said. “They’re in good condition. What’s the maintenance plan that tells you when they need to be repainted? I looked at Abilene Road — that is still in terrible condition, and you’re using all this money to repaint the lines. Is there a contract on that that says it has to be repainted so many years, the lines?”

“Yes,” Frederick replied. “I hope I’m not making this more confusing, but anything that’s down that’s paint, we try to refresh it every year, is what I’ve been told. There’s some roads that don’t have paint down. If it’s thermoplastic, I think we try to get five years out of it before we start painting it every year.”

Scott Frederick

In reference to the lines on Darlington Heights Road, he said, “Well, those I think were paint. They have at least been painted last year, so we have a cycle of paint stuff every year.”

“So you said that’s done every year?” Pride asked for confirmation.

“If it’s already paint, we try to refresh it every year is what our district paint guy told me a week ago when I called him and asked him about it,” Frederick said.

“Would you also research the cost on that, of also doing that?” Pride asked.

“I can,” he replied.

“I still, as I said before, have major concerns for Abilene Road,” Pride said. “Riding on the edges of those roads is so dangerous. When you get to the Charlotte County line, they don’t have the white lines on the edge, but those roads are in excellent condition, and they have widened them by adding gravel or whatever. It’s not even regular gravel. I travel on that road quite a bit, and it is just excellent driving conditions.

“We need to do something very similar to Abilene Road,” she continued. “It looks like we’re not getting the white lines because you’re consistently saying that it’s not wide enough.”

“It’s not wide enough …,” Frederick affirmed.

Later in the meeting, he added, “As far as striping goes, I’ll say for the sake of the crowd, if something is (less than 18 feet wide), it gets no lines. If it’s 18 feet, that’s where you can put a centered, double-yellow line, and in that 18-20-foot (range) is where you would just (use) a center line. If it’s 20 or above, you can do the center line with the white edge lines.”

“So what exactly is Abliene?” Pride asked.

“It may be it’s various, but anywhere it’s not striped is less than 18 feet,” he replied.

“OK,” she said.

Returning to a recounting of their exchange from earlier in the meeting, “Something needs to be done to those roads, and I’m going to give you my stats I have on this,” Pride said. “There are some parts of Abilene that are worse than others, and I’m going to give you those numbers.”

She noted that VDOT reduced the speed limit from 55 to 50 mph.

“That helps a little bit, but when somebody is speeding on the road, and they’re over that line, you have to literally take the ditch sometimes (to keep) from hitting people,” Pride said. “I had to do that last week, and if I were not going my correct speed, I would have been in that ditch hitting a tree — very dangerous condition. One of the most dangerous is Irving (Hay and Straw), it’s where Irving sells the hay or whatever.”

Irving Hay and Straw’s street address is listed on the company’s website as 4937 Abilene Road.

“That edge is terrible, and everything beyond that needs to be addressed,” Pride said.

“And one of my last concerns, and this came to me last week — I’ve seen it from day to day — but I looked at the white lines that basically go from Darlington Heights Road up to Hampden-Sydney College to whatever,” she said. “Why would the white lines stop there and didn’t extend to Abilene Road? Now, I know you weren’t in charge then, but could you research that for me as well, why beyond that on Abilene Road was not considered to be widened and the white lines added?”

“OK,” Frederick said. “To your first point about Charlotte County, they’ve been using their county safety money the last two years. They widened one side the first year, and then the second year they widened the other side, and then it was put in their surface treatment schedule to surface treat on top of everything … The surface treatment kind of made it look uniform, it kind of took an effort to smooth it out one last time. And that’s how they accomplished that was using their county safety funds. I think it was a great project. That road feels drastically different than the portion in Prince Edward County.”

Pride agreed.

Assistant County Administrator Sarah Elam Puckett said, “Scott, I think we did that on Five Forks (Road) not too many years ago. Almost the entire length they built up the shoulders in advance of the surface treating schedule … So think that same strategy was used all the way across Five Forks, if I’m not mistaken.”

Pride said, “Could that strategy be used for Abilene Road? It needs to be considered.”

County Administrator Wade Bartlett said, “That had to cost more than the safety money, so that had to have been in VDOT’s plan.”

Puckett said, “We’d have to work it in this spring when we do the Six-Year Plan and the programming of all that money, figure out how long it is and how many years it’s going to take to build up the shoulders.”

Frederick said, “Yeah, we let you guys tell us what you want us to use the safety money for.”

“I would like for it to be considered,” Pride said, noting that she has received many comments from Charlotte County citizens who have observed that the Prince Edward County portion of Abilene Road is horrible driving compared to the Charlotte side. “And I know they’re telling the truth, because I’ve driven on both roads.”

Bartlett said, “The part that Supervisor Pride mentioned from Hampden-Sydney to Darlington Heights, that’s come up before. As I recall, there was a project years ago. If you noticed, it’s a little wider there, and that project went from about Hampden-Sydney area down to Darlington Heights, because if you ride that, it’s a little wider. I guess that width made it wide enough where you could get the stripes on the sides.”

“Gotcha,” Frederick said. “And it’s been brought to my attention that there’s some spots where the edge is kind of breaking up a little bit, so we’re going to take a look at that.”

“Thank you,” Pride said.