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April 06, 2012

Bridge projects get focus as state funding drops further for secondary road projects

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DailyProgressBy Courtney Beale
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, April 6, 2012

Road project priorities, funding and safety were among the topics discussed during the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Wednesday presentation to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors.

VDOT representatives gave their monthly report and shared the news that local funding for secondary roads would be decreasing another 13.3 percent. The board held a work session to start the process for setting priorities in the six-year improvement program.

Because of decreased state funding, completing bridge improvement and replacement projects was named as the board’s top concern.

“That has to be the biggest priority to make sure we’re safe,” said Supervisor Dennis S. Rooker.

David Crim, VDOT’s Charlottesville residency administrator, detailed upcoming transportation projects such as opening the Route 743 bridge over Jacobs Run today, continuing construction on the underside of the Shadwell Bridge as the contractor prepares for its closure and the replacement of the Route 672 bridge over Doyles River.

“[Route 672] will be so much safer and so much less maintenance required once this is finished,” said Supervisor Ann H. Mallek.

Another issue addressed in VDOT’s monthly report was Ivy’s Dry Bridge. VDOT has already held a public hearing on the design of the bridge and the report states that it should be advertised for replacement by May 2013.

Greg Banks, VDOT’s secondary planning coordinator, reminded board members that funding for the Dry Bridge replacement was previously about $1 million below budget. He said that the Federal Bridge Program would be filling that funding gap.

Banks also reported the secondary road funding figures to the board, noting that the amount had decreased from the previous six-year period.

“In recent years, we have seen such funding restrictions, and this year seems to be nothing different,” Banks said.

Albemarle will receive $318,031 in fiscal year 2013, a 13.3 percent drop from the $366,810 received in FY 2012. The county’s secondary roads, those numbered 600 and above, are now projected to receive $350,034 in funding for each of the subsequent five years.

Banks informed the board that the final accounting for Albemarle’s portion of the Meadow Creek Parkway was nearing completion.

“We are presently going through some auditing endeavors now and finalizing [the Meadow Creek Parkway], but from a construction standpoint that project has been completed,” said Banks.

Improvements along Georgetown Road are also complete and VDOT is starting its final audit.

The Broomley Road Bridge replacement was addressed as a priority in the six-year improvement program as well as the VDOT monthly report. The report stated that the bridge, near Ivy Nursery, is in the early design phases and VDOT will host a public hearing on the design in October.

Rooker noted that the budget for the Broomley Bridge showed it would be completed with more than $720,000 left over.

“Technically you are overfunded if the [earlier cost] estimate is met,” Rooker said. “So it is feasible that if you did it with the other budget you might have money left over to move over to another project.”

“I believe that was the case last year,” Banks said. “Some of these figures have changed since then and will be reflected in the upcoming six-year plan. It’s feasible if these figures and bridge funding stays the same.”

In other news, the board learned that Crim would be resigning from VDOT later this month.  

“I found your announcement to be a shock and a disappointment,” Rooker said. “You’ve been terrific to work with, extremely responsive.”

Crim’s replacement has not yet been named.

VDOT will take public input on the six-year improvement plan for the Culpeper District, which includes Albemarle, at a hearing in Richmond on May 2 at 6 p.m. The Albemarle supervisors will hold a public hearing on their road priorities on May 9 during their evening meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.

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