Albemarle’s six-year road plan challenged by significant state funding cuts

By Brian Wheeler

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Albemarle County is slated to receive $325,000 a year from the Virginia Department of Transportation over the next five years for secondary road construction.  The funding is as low as county officials have ever seen it, down dramatically from the $ million allocated by the state in FY 2004.

Were it not for right of way use fees paid by utility company customers in their monthly bills, Albemarle County would have no state funding for secondary roads.  All other state and federal funding sources for secondary road construction have been eliminated.

That was the assessment of Allan D. Sumpter, head of VDOT’s Charlottesville residency, shortly before the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Wednesday.  Each year, the board reviews the annual list of local secondary road priorities, also known as the six-year plan.

Secondary roads are those numbered 600 and above.  Primary roads, like U.S. Route 29, are funded from other sources for their construction and maintenance.

Of the twenty-two projects on Albemarle’s secondary road priority list, only the

Meadowcreek Parkway

is moving forward.  The other two top priority projects—

Jarman’s Gap Road


Georgetown Road

—have both had their start dates pushed back repeatedly and their scopes significantly reduced.

“Jarman’s Gap road has been on [the list] forever, you will believe it when you see it,” said County Planning Commissioner

Tom Loach

in an interview.  “One of the reasons we did the master plan for Crozet was for concurrency of infrastructure, something we have not seen with the [plan’s implementation].”

Improvements along Jarmans Gap Road, including sidewalks and bike lanes, are estimated to cost around $16 million and VDOT now plans to advertise the project for construction bids in January 2011.

David Benish, Albemarle’s chief of planning, told the board that both Jarman’s Gap and Georgetown Road would be fully funded in the proposed six year plan and advertised in 2011 for construction.

The next project that will start receiving allocations is the replacement of the

Broomley Road railroad bridge

near Ivy Nursery off Route 250 West.  Benish said the bridge project is not expected to accumulate adequate funding until 2017.

More than ever before, Albemarle is being left to find its own financial resources to address transportation needs.  When the board passed its FY 2011 budget, Supervisor

Dennis Rooker

unsuccessfully advocated for a 2 cent increase on the real estate property tax rate in order to support what he called “a modest capital budget,” funds which could be used to support transportation projects.

The county’s approved budget includes a 2010 tax rate of 74.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, which means the average household pays about $90 less in real-estate taxes than in 2009 because assessed home values have declined.


Lindsay Dorrier

, a fiscally conservative Democrat, teamed with three Republicans on the Board of Supervisors —

Kenneth C. Boyd


Rodney S. Thomas


Duane Snow

— to keep the rate unchanged.

“If you had the money to do it, that would be great,” said Snow in an interview.  “The bottom line is we don’t have the money….Next year, if we do a tax increase, that will give us some additional money to put into infrastructure.”

“We need to curtail our spending.  We get both feet on the ground, then we can move forward with some of these things,” said Thomas in an interview.  “I’d like to get through the next 6 months and dig deeper into the budgets and the spending.  I would love to get our capital improvements program built back up, but now is not the right time to raise taxes.”

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve its list of road priorities and the road construction budget in Albemarle’s six-year secondary road plan.