At its meeting on November 7, 2007, The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors received
a briefing on transportation matters from Allan Sumpter
, director of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Charlottesville Residency. Highlights include
an update on the Advance Mills Bridge on Route 743
, safety improvements on Route 53, and suggestions to speed up transportation improvement projects.
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After hearing a general overview from Sumpter, Supervisors began asking questions about projects in their magisterial district.
(Scottsville) wanted more information on the possibility of making Route 53 near Monticello safer in light of recent traffic fatalities in the vicinity.
“I’m always amazed at how narrow [Route 53] is right before you get the entrance Monticello,” Dorrier said. “The guardrails look like they’ve been beaten to pieces.”
Sumpter responded that VDOT is restricted in what it can do by only 30 feet of right of way, but it has recently painted the word “slow” onto the lanes to encourage drivers to use caution in that area. He said he has been meeting with officials at Monticello to see how some of the curves might be straightened out slightly to alleviate a blind spot. But he said Monticello is concerned about the impact on their historical resources. That prompted Dorrier to remind Sumpter that people are dying on the road.
Dorrier also wanted to know if any progress has been made towards installing a stop light at the entrance to the Glenmore subdivision. A plan to build one does not currently meet VDOT’s criteria, according to Sumpter, and Dorrier did not agree.
“Those people out there are pretty adamant it’s needed for safety reasons,” said Dorrier. “The developer will pay for the light, so that’s not a problem. It’s just a matter of putting it up, it seems to me.”
Sumpter said because U.S. 250 is a federal road, VDOT has more stringent criteria , called warrants, that any light must meet. He said he and his staff would continue to monitor the situation to see if anything changes as traffic volume increases. Dorrier said the construction of the Village at Rivanna would likely help the project meet the warrants.
(White Hall) asked Sumpter why the construction bid date for Jarman’s Gap has been pushed back by one year. The project has now been split into two parts, with the first phase consisting of improvements made to a half-mile road from Route 240 to east of Route 684. The scheduled advertising date for that project is now November 2010. Sumpter did not provide an answer, but Wyant acknowledged the delay is due to right of way and utility replacement issues.
Soon afterwards, Supervisor
(Jack Jouett) expressed his concern that the advertised time for Georgetown Road project is also being pushed back and weakened.
“We’ve reduced the scope of the project so it only takes place on one side of the road,” Rooker said. “All it is now is a multipurpose path on one side of the road with a few crosswalks. We’re talking about three and a half or four years to begin construction on something we have the money set aside for.” Rooker continued, saying that something had to be done to increase the pace of transportation improvements.
County Executive Bob Tucker pointed out that a lot of the delay could be attributed to the long amount of time it takes to acquire right of way, and that VDOT was much better equipped to perform that task.
But Rooker said that the Georgetown Road project has been on the books for several years, and that the utility relocation and right of way acquisition should have already been performed.
“These processes shouldn’t be ten-year processes,” Rooker said. Supervisor
(Rio) said he and Rooker would bring the issue up with Quentin Elliot, acting administrator of VDOT’s Culpeper District. Sumpter said locally administered projects are becoming more common, but that right-of-way often requires the state to get involved.
“We need to find a way to mesh those two things,” Rooker said.
Finally, Rooker had questions about how railroad bridge safety is monitored. He made his comments after learning from Sumpter that Norfolk Southern Railroad
will be making some repairs to the railroad bridge on Free State Road (Route 651)
. Rooker asked how what good sufficiency ratings on bridge are if you can’t force a railroad to make upgrades. The Free State Road bridge is currently rated 2 on a scale to 100.
“It seems to me that over the years bridge repairs have been handled in kind of a cozy way. You call up the railroad and there’s some discussion, and after some period of time, ten calls, they finally come out and respond and a plan gets put into place,” Rooker said. He called for new regulations to govern who is responsible for ensuring railroad bridges remain structurally sound, pointing out that the recently fixed Broomley Ridge Road was repaired to a sufficiency rating of 46.
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