Residents split on paving of Clarke road

Posted: May 23, 2013

The Winchester Star

BERRYVILLE — Citizen turnout made a difference Tuesday night as the Clarke County Board of Supervisors gave its approval to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Six-Year Secondary Road Plan.

About 16 people, mostly residents along Allen Road, attended the meeting to express concern about the placement of part of their road on the road plan.

Most of those on the east end of the road — closest to Summit Point Road (Route 611), which VDOT plans to pave under its “rural rustic” program by 2017 — do not appear to want the road hardtopped.

Those who live on the west end — closer to Crums Church Road (Route 612) — do, but VDOT wasn’t planning to address their section until after 2017.

Edwin “Ed” Carter, program manager for the Edinburg District of VDOT, said the transportation bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly this year should provide money for more construction projects in the future.

Money shortages had reduced VDOT to mostly funding maintenance of existing roads, unless federal highway funds were available.

However, there is expected to be money for secondary road projects within four years, Carter said.

Using the rural rustic criteria, Allen Road could be paved if there is a minimum width of 12 feet and VDOT does not have to deal with any big issues like drainage.

Also, Carter said, the hardtop surface involves layering tar and chips several times, not putting down asphalt.

Residents in a subdivision on the west end of Allen greeted the idea of dust control with enthusiasm, and they want the work done immediately.

But residents on the east end, recalling a previous project that destroyed stone walls and mature trees to widen the road, were against any change.

Planning Commission member Anne Caldwell, who lives on the Blue Ridge, suggested that the residents along Allen Road examine the rural rustic addition VDOT did at the south end of Ebenezer Road on the mountain. She praised the work as keeping the rural character, while improving the travel surface.

As a compromise, the supervisors unanimously agreed to keep Allen on its “rural rustic” wish list, but did not designate which stretch of it should be done first.

Carter said that decision can be made at a later date, since funding is still several years away.

Other roads on the Improvement Plan include Westwood Road, from West Main Street to south of the old high school at $5.7 million; safety improvements to the intersection of Shepherds Mill Road at Harry Byrd Highway (Va. 7), estimated at $260,000; and replacement of a culvert on River Road for $125,000.

A left-turn lane for the northbound traffic on Lord Fairfax Highway (U.S. 340) at Senseny Road is already under design, and could be bid next fall. Improvements to the sidewalks on Page Street have just been completed with revenue sharing funds, Carter said.

VDOT also plans to replace bridges over Opequon Creek — between Frederick and Clarke counties — at Old Charles Town Road and Old Winchester Road, which carries an estimated $6 million price tag.

Board Chairman Michael Hobert told the audience that, while the governing body could approve the plan, the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board has the final say on funding. The projects will only be completed if the CTB allots the money.

Attending the meeting in the Joint Government Center were Chairman Michael Hobert and supervisors Barbara Byrd, David Weiss and Beverly McKay. Supervisor John Staelin was absent.

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com