County declines funds for roadwork

Posted: April 12, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Frederick County will not put up an estimated $110,000 in matching funds to widen the shoulders along Senseny Road.

The Board of Supervisors did not discuss whether or not to provide the funds during its Tuesday evening meeting, meaning the project will not happen since there was a tight timeframe for a response, according to Stonewall Supervisor Charles DeHaven Jr., chairman of the county’s Transportation Committee.

The work along about 11/2 miles of Senseny Road — just east of Winchester between Interstate 81 and Greenwood Road — would have involved the creation of four feet of paved shoulders along both sides of the road. There currently is little to no paved shoulder space along that stretch of the road.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) awarded Frederick County $442,521 in road-enhancement funding several years ago to help improve conditions along Senseny, with the stipulation that it put up a $110,630 local match.

While previous plans included a multi-use path for bicyclists and pedestrians, an estimated price tag of more than $2 million prevented any work from occurring, according to information presented to the county’s Transportation Committee during a late March meeting.

DeHaven said Thursday that the board did not take up the matter because the shoulder widening — which could be used by bicyclists and pedestrians but not marked specifically for those uses due to state regulations — likely wouldn’t benefit the county enough to justify the $110,630 in matching funds.

“I think it was a worthwhile project as [originally] envisioned at the time,” he said.

DeHaven, however, did recognize the area’s recent growth and the need for improved conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians.

“We have a bike and pedestrian plan and I hope we’ll be able to implement it,” he said.

Several members of the Winchester Wheelmen — a local bicycle advocacy group — spoke in favor of the shoulder widening during the meeting.

They believe that project would increase safety both for bicyclists and pedestrians by allowing them to stay out of the traffic. Wider shoulders would also benefit motorists since they would be less likely to drive off the road’s edge and crash, according to the Wheelmen members who spoke.

DeHaven thinks the county could revisit the original plan of having a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian path if funding becomes available in the future.

“Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to accomplish it,” he said.

— Contact Matt Armstrongat