BERRYVILLE — Hillsboro is collecting most of the data and doing most of the analysis on how a planned highway reconstruction project there will affect traffic in Clarke County, according to Mayor Roger Vance.
In a phone call to The Winchester Star late Thursday afternoon, Vance disputed a comment made by Ed Carter, resident engineer at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) office in Edinburg, that the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) is doing most of the analysis. Carter made the comment during a Clarke County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.
“We are doing analysis that VDOT asked us to do,” Vance said.
The NVTA is just “a funding body,” he said.
Erica Hawksworth, the NVTA’s communications and public affairs manager, wrote in an email that the authority conducted analysis during a project application review as part of its fiscal 2018-23 Six-Year Program, but “we have not been involved in gathering new data and conducting new analysis on Route 9.”
“NVTA did provide funding dollars for the Route 9 traffic calming project, but we are not involved in administering the project and maintaining the roadway,” Hawksworth said.
Hillsboro is a town in western Loudoun County with fewer than 200 residents. The installation of roundabouts and other traffic calming measures is expected to begin in February along a two-lane stretch of Va. 9 (Charles Town Pike) through the town.
If both lanes through the town are closed during construction, the project will take about a year. It will take about three years otherwise, officials have said.
Clarke County officials are concerned about the full closure option because, according to engineers, it could increase traffic along Va. 7 (Harry Byrd Highway) and U.S. 340 (Lord Fairfax Highway) north of Berryville by 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles daily.
Those four-lane, divided highways are heavily used by commuters between the Winchester, Berryville, Leesburg and Washington, D.C., areas and frequently are congested, especially during the early morning and late afternoon on weekdays. VDOT statistics show, for instance, the 13½-mile stretch of Va. 7 through Clarke, between the Frederick and Loudoun county lines, sees between 25,000 and 30,000 vehicles on weekdays at different points.
A traffic count for U.S. 340 was not available immediately.
Vance estimated that Hillsboro has about $15 million from Loudoun County and the NVTA to put toward the Va. 9 project. The town has a little extra funding from VDOT, he said, to put toward “ancillary projects” such as pedestrian/bicycle trails.
Although VDOT is not funding the reconstruction, Vance said it still must “approve everything” because technically it owns the highway.
Clarke County is in VDOT’s Staunton District; Loudoun County is in its Northern Virginia District. Staunton District officials maintain they were not aware of the full closure option before Clarke officials found out about it in late August.
Vance said both VDOT districts now are working with Hillsboro to find ways to help Clarke cope with any traffic increase it sees.
“I’m hopeful that we can find a solution amicable” to all parties involved, he said.