Six Year Secondary Road Priority List



Work session to discuss the Six Year Secondary Road Priority List in preparation for the public hearing to be held on March 10, 2008



Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Graham, Benish, and Wade






March 5, 2008


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The Board of Supervisors held a work session during their January 9, 2008 meeting on the Six-Year Secondary Road Priority List. At that meeting, the Board directed staff to focus road paving priorities and construction efforts on projects located within or directly adjacent to the Development Areas.  The Board also agreed with the VDOT staff recommendation to complete unpaved road projects that are currently under design and development.  The Board also directed staff to keep the Old Ivy Road project at the current priority approved in the 2007 Priority List (priority #6) and not lower it in priority as recommended by staff in the draft Priority List for 2008.


Staff has made the necessary changes to the draft Priority List of Road Improvements (Attachment A) to reflect the Board‘s directions, to date.  The Board requested a work session to review the revised Priority List before the public hearing that is scheduled for March 12, 2008.  Staff has provided some additional information regarding the unpaved road projects for the Board’s information and consideration.



Goal 3: Develop Policies and Infrastructure Improvements to Address the County’s Growing Needs.





Road Paving Projects Currently Under Development

At the last work session, the Board agreed with a VDOT staff recommendation to complete road paving projects that are already in the planning and design phase. These projects are:


These projects will be paved in FY08-09 using rural rustic road paving guidelines. Staff will be notifying the public and property owners along these roads of the upcoming projects consistent with the rural rustic road project public notice and comment guidelines established by the Board. Any concerns/objections expressed by the public will be provided to the Board of Supervisors for its consideration.


The total cost of the above noted rural rustic road projects will use all but approximately $78,000 of the available road paving funds for the upcoming fiscal year; therefore, only a limited amount of funding will be available for allocation to either Dickerson Road or Rio Mills Road projects in the upcoming fiscal year.  Once the “committed” rural rustic road projects are completed in FY08-09, future fund allocations will be focused on paving Dickerson Road and Rio Mills Road. Both of these are costly paving projects and will take a number of years of the County’s paving allocations to fund and complete.


This funding situation provides an opportunity for VDOT/County staff to evaluate more fully the impacts of modifying the road paving priorities as recommended by the Planning Commission over the next year, since any change in direction in the road paving priorities would not affect funding and implementation of the Six Year Road Plan until FY09-10.  



Paving Projects in the Development Area

The Planning Commission reviewed the recommended Road Improvement Priority List in December and recommended discontinuing the paving of Rural Area roads and reallocating those funds to priority projects in the Development Areas.  The Commission’s concern is that the expenditure of funds on projects within the Rural Area is not consistent with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan and facilitates continued development in the Rural Area.  VDOT and County staff have previously provided the Board with information regarding the financial impacts, penalties, and constraints of transferring dedicated road paving funds to non-road paving projects. The Board discussed the Commission’s recommendation and directed staff to concentrate road paving funds on the two paving projects located in the Development Areas (DA), Rio Mills Road (Route 643) and Dickerson Road (Route 606). Both roads are located along the western boundary of the Hollymead Community (the southern end of Rio Mills Road from Route 29 to just north of the South Fork Rivanna River dam is outside the DA). Paving the gravel segments of these two roads would create an alternative north-south road network generally parallel to Route 29 that would help address some of the transportation/traffic needs in the area.  These two projects have long been the two highest priority regular road paving projects.  Due to concerns expressed by some Board members regarding the potential of the Rio Mills paving project to encourage additional truck traffic on Earlysville Road from the reopening of a quarry (located on Rio Mills Road), Dickerson Road has been listed as the highest priority regular road paving project.


VDOT has estimated the cost of paving Dickerson Road to be just over $11,000,000. This estimate includes the replacement of two existing bridges over Jacobs Run and the North Fork of the Rivanna River. The bridge improvements are over $7,200,000 of the total project cost. Both bridges are one lane, timber decked structures. The bridge over the North Fork is a steel truss structure built in 1924 and has recently been posted for a three-ton weight limit.  A shorter paving project could be undertaken that would include sections of the road up to, but not including the middle section of the road containing the bridges.  The total cost for that project is estimated at $3,800,000, and could be funded sooner than the full project.  However, this would leave the middle section of the road unpaved and the deteriorating bridges unaddressed.  VDOT strongly recommends that the bridges be part of the paving project for safety reasons.


Regarding the Rio Mills project, the estimated cost for this project is $3,219,000 and would provide a fully paved road section from Route 29 to Earlysville Road.  There is a possibility that the owner of the quarry located along the road could contribute to the improvement project for Rio Mills Road. Due to these cost factors, the Rio Mills project could be constructed sooner than the Dickerson Road project. 


Assuming that all of the annual unpaved roads allocation ($500,000-$600-000 per year) beyond FY08-09 is allocated to these two projects, there would not be sufficient funds in the proposed Six Year Plan to complete both projects within the next six years.  It may be possible to fund Rio Mills Road within the next six years due to its lower cost.  Project design work is also much further along for the Rio Mills project. 


As noted earlier, the cost for completing the five “committed” rural rustic road paving projects will use most of the available paving funds for the upcoming fiscal year; therefore, a final decision on the relative priority of the two projects is not needed this year.


Further Comments on the Planning Commission’s Recommendation:

As noted earlier, it is recommended that VDOT and County staff use the period between this year’s and next year’s Six Year Plan Update to review the impacts and program changes needed to  implement the Commission’s recommendation to stop paving rural roads, except for roads with significant safety issues.  However, staff provides the follow general comments for consideration:


Comprehensive Plan Recommendations Related to Road Paving/Rural Roads

·         The County growth management policy and public facilities goals, principles, and policies encourage infrastructure improvements in Development Areas and recognize that a lower level of service is to be expected in the Rural Areas. Recommendations in the Plan also recognize that certain roads in the Rural Area may need to be improved (such as roads that serve as farm/forestry to market routes, roads connect Development Areas to services (parks, schools in the Rural Area). This would suggest that a more strategic approach should be established for rural road paving efforts, rather than one based on public requests or discontinuing rural projects all together.



Potential Penalty/Reduction in Future Allocations

·         Dickerson Road, Rio Mills Road, and a portion of Reservoir Road are the only remaining unpaved roads in the Development Areas.  Once these roads are paved, the annual road paving allocations would have to: 1) be used on roads in the Rural Area; 2) be transferred to regular road construction projects at a penalty/reduction in future allocations each year that the transfer is made.  Over time, this would result in the forfeiture of the paving funds.

·         Maintenance of unpaved roads is costly to VDOT (more frequent resurfacing, blading, dust control, and repairs after heavy storms).  Paved roads are generally perceived to have lower maintenance and operating costs than unpaved roads.  Further analysis and input will be needed from VDOT to evaluate the budget implications of the shift in priorities. 


Potential Changes to County Ranking Criteria

·         Staff will need to assess whether refinements would be needed to the County’s ranking criteria in order to better identify rural roads with “significant safety issues.”   The current road paving project ranking criteria is based in large part on characteristics of the road that intend to help measure the safety of the road (traffic volumes, roadway width, shoulder width, etc.).  Input from Police, Fire/Rescue, and County School Transportation staff are also factored into the current evaluation, but may need to be to given even more weight in the eligibility/ranking process. 


Staff would welcome any further guidance on the proposed schedule for this analysis and the above noted issue areas identified.




The Six-Year Road Planning process primarily establishes the County’s priorities for the expenditure of State/VDOT secondary road construction funds.




This information is provided for the Board of Supervisors to discuss in preparation for the March 12, 2008 public hearing.  Staff would like direction on whether or not to analyze a revision to the criteria used to prioritize unpaved roads in the Rural Areas. 




Draft 2008 Strategic Priorities

Draft 2008 Priority List For Secondary Road Improvements, Bridge Improvements

Draft 2008 Priority List For Secondary Road Improvements, Paving Projects (Rural Rustic and Regular)

Draft 2008 Inventory of Potential Projects

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