With revenue streams finally becoming available from the state, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s proposed six-year road plan for secondary road construction improvements in Carroll County includes 26 roads.
Area VDOT officials outlined the plan during a public hearing at the April 14 meeting of the Carroll County Board of Supervisors. Dan Huff, Area Landuse Engineer from VDOT’s Hillsville office, explained that the top four projects in the draft plan include the Route 620 four-lane project, Route 735 (Pridemore Road), Route 799 (Crestwood Road) and Route 793 (Sherwood Road). The first three projects are scheduled to be completed this year, while the Sherwood Road project is remaining from last year’s plan, Huff said.
“Under the new funding format, available funds now can only be used for paving projects on unimproved roads with an average daily count of at least 50 or more,” Huff said. “With this in mind, we have reviewed every unimproved road in Carroll County that meets the current traffic count of 50 and can be paved with a Rural Rustic program.”
Not all the roads made the list, Huff said, because they were too narrow in places or had drainage issues or other problems that would consist of more than just a paving project. Lisa Hughes, Administrator of VDOT’s Martinsville Residency, read a list of 22 additional roads identified for Carroll’s six-year plan.
“This is a long list, but this is a good thing. We tried to identify roads that would meet the Rural Rustic criteria and basically we just bleed the ditches and pave them in place,” Hughes said. “We do this with state forces and it lets us do them a lot cheaper so we can do a lot more roads.”
Additional roads VDOT has recommended for the six-year plan include Route 825 (Burnett Road), Route 960 (Bronco Road), Route 718 (Wolfpen Ridge Road), Route 676 (Bluestone Road), Route 820 (Freemont Road), Route 864 (Longwood Drive), Route 666 (Bent Nail Road), Route 986 (Cherokee Road), Route 857 (Staunton Drive), Route 920 (Trail Road), Route 852 (Woods Edge), Route 873 (Shady Valley Road), Route 876 (Cedarwood Road), Route 840 (Mountain Valley Road), Route 966 (Hemlock Ridge Road), Route 907 (Horseshoe Bend), Route 902 (Patriot Drive), Route 997 (Beck Hollow Road), Route 655 (Chisholm Creek Road), Route 935 (Appleton Road), Route 893 (Round Hill Road), and Route 763 (Hunters Ridge Road).
Hughes explained that while Round Hill Road does meet the Rural Rustic criteria, it only has an average daily traffic count of 10. VDOT believes that number could be in error, however, and it will be recounted. Hunters Ridge Road will also be looked at again because there is a section that may be too narrow, Hughes explained.
Mike Winegarden was the first citizen to speak during the public hearing. He spoke on behalf of the residents of Round Hill Road in Fancy Gap. The road is only seven-tenths of a mile long and has 10 permanent residents. It serves as a link between the Blue Ridge Parkway and Misty Trail. It is used by many people, including VDOT, as a shortcut.
“When the parkway is closed it is a main route to the roads,” Winegarden said. “The plows, we are thankful they came to scrape the snow off, but they took the core off the road and now the contour of the road is wrong. In other words the water will not flow properly during the winter…There are sections of the road that are extremely slippery after it rains, and at times you have to put your vehicle in 4-wheel drive just to go up a slight incline. It worries me when a school bus goes up the slippery road, and we are hoping it doesn’t go into a ditch.”
Winegarden added that after heavy rain, the road washes out and has to be closed. He guaranteed if VDOT checked the average daily count on the road, it would average more than 50 cars or trucks in most places.
“We thank you for putting us on the six-year plan, however we would appreciate it if you could pave it sooner,” he said.
Citizen Jim White spoke about two sections of Route 608 in Carroll County. One portion named Groundhog Mountain Road represents a nine-tenths-of-a-mile stretch of gravel, while the other portion is Boundary Road between Willis Gap and Keno Road. The road is used for commercial traffic for Elkhorn Acres, the retreat at Groundhog Mountain, and the Doe Run development as it runs parallel to the parkway, White said.
“They all depend on this road for commercial traffic, school bus traffic, emergency vehicles, fire department, and everything else,” White said. “At times the section between Willis Gap and Keno is really not passable for two vehicles, let alone an emergency vehicle. The road is in terrible condition most of the time during the winter, but when they close the parkway because of the snow that is our only route.”
For the safety of the residents and the sake of emergency traffic, White said it was his sincere hope Carroll could add the route to its six-year plan.
Connie Padgett spoke about Route 840, Mountain Valley Road, which is seven-tenths of a mile long. Two school buses travel the road every day, he said, and a trash truck comes every Monday morning. A portion of the road is less than 12 feet wide.
“If traffic meets, somebody has to back to the driveways,” Padgett said, adding that the road is higher than the ditches. “You want it to where the road is under the level of the ditches. We have not gotten any cooperation. We have not had a grader on our road this year except one time. We are citizens of the county, but we don’t get no dad-burned service.”
With Mountain Valley Road prioritized as number 18 on VDOT’s recommended list for the six-year road plan, Supervisor Bob Martin asked Huff if he envisioned the road coming up for improvements any time soon.
“Based on the projected revenues, which is something new for us for a long time, these roads will all be funded by 2020, so that’s pretty good,” Huff said. “We actually may have a six-year plan now instead of a 20-year plan. It looks good.”
Padgett disagreed with Huff’s assertion.
“It don’t look good to me because I am a senior citizen. At the present time it makes more sense to me and most of the senior citizens on that road to get it done now,” Padgett said.
Bob Spencer spoke about Park Bridge Road. The road is only four-tenths of a mile long and only has three permanent residents. And while it doesn’t meet the average daily traffic count, Spencer said a motor grader does service the road fairly often. He wondered if it would save money in the long run to pave the road instead of sending a motor grader several times a year.
At the conclusion of the public hearing, Huff said VDOT is scheduled to get a lot of revenue over the next five years, something that hasn’t happened in the recent years. With increased revenues, Supervisor Joshua Hendrick asked if there would be the potential of improvements to existing paved roads.
“It is always a possibility things could change down the road,” Huff said. “There could be new policies that might come out once the unimproved roads have been paved and perhaps they will start allocating money to paved projects.”
Board Chairman David Hutchins said supervisors would discuss the proposed six-year road plan and come up with recommendations for VDOT at an upcoming meeting.