How Much Have We Lost?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Weekly Column: Major Paving Operations Set to Start this Summer in 44th District

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of May 9, 2015.
Major Paving Operations Set to Start this Summer in 44th District
As the weather warms and we approach the summer, it also means that we are approaching the road mowing and paving season in Northern Virginia, and good news is coming for the 44th District.
From 1987 to 2013, the General Assembly refused to raise Virginia’s $0.17/gallon gas tax to even keep up with inflation.  As salaries, the cost of materials, and infrastructure needs all increased, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) had to prioritize funds for other critical maintenance needs.  As a result, grass mowing was massively limited, primary and interstate maintenance was prioritized and secondary road paving was limited.  Over 70% of secondary roads in Northern Virginia were rated to have substandard pavement quality (secondary roads are roads numbered over 600).
Over the last six years I have been in office, I have consistently received complaints about pavement quality – especially on major secondary arteries like Fort Hunt Road and Sherwood Hall Lane.

As I began receiving annual paving reports from VDOT, I began to question why only a handful of roads, usually totaling less than one mile were being paved in the 44th District.  The answer was always lack of funding, but I could not help but notice more activity in others parts of Northern Virginia so I began to be the squeaky wheel. 
In 2013, the legislature raised a series of taxes to help fund our roads and maintenance funding was restored.  Last year, we saw the first major batch of paving in our community as the direct result of this.
VDOT tries to bid out paving projects on need and geographic location.  Contractors may provide on competitive bids when projects are conducted all within compact areas.  This is why VDOT usually does not repave random streets miles apart (there are some exceptions).  Also, typically – not but always – roads in entire neighborhoods deteriorate at the same rate.     
This is why last year, the rest of Fort Hunt Road was paved along with Sherwood Hall Lane which was also restriped for bike lanes, and paving was completed nearby neighborhoods including major areas of Hollin Hills, Bucknell Heights, Bucknell Manor, Mason Hill, Hollindale, Hybla Valley Farms, along with a few roads in Wellington. 
This year, much more is planned aided in part by a mild winter (less money spent on snow removal).  The short version is that if you live in between U.S. 1, Fort Hunt Road, and Little Hunting Creek, plus the Belleview/New Alexandria area, your road is getting repaved if it did not happen in the last two years.   VDOT also plans to pave all of Mount Vernon Memorial Highway from U.S. 1 down to the Mount Vernon Estate and then back out to Woodlawn. 
We will also be getting new bike lanes after repaving on Fordson Road, Quander Road, Hinson Farm Road, Parkers Lane/Collingwood Road, and Beacon Hill Road/Belleview Boulevard.
Next year, VDOT plans to work on the areas on the east side of Fort Hunt Road and start moving into neighborhoods in 22309 and the west side of U.S. 1. 
If you would like to see a more detailed map including your specific street you can go to my online newsletter, The Dixie Pig at scottsurovell.blogspot.com. 
I am pleased that VDOT is finally taking steps to properly maintain our roadways, but VDOT still has a huge amount of catchup to play.  Nearly every secondary road in the 44th District has substandard pavement quality and after this summer, fifty percent (50%) of the 44th District’s roads will still be in need of repaving.  You can look at the entire map in Northern Virginia at www.virginiaroads.org and see that we are very lucky to be getting the attention this summer that we are.
Our experience over the last two decades is a basic lesson in the consequences of starving basic government services.  If we do not keep our revenues commensurate with our needs, infrastructure and quality of life will suffer.  In 2013, taxes were raised and you are now seeing the results and that the results will consequently save your family a couple alignments or a tire or two. 
If you have any questions or complaints, please contact me at scott@scottsurovell.org.  It is an honor to serve as your delegate. 
Screenshots of planned paving are below taken from VDOT's website (black hatching = planned paving and blue = roads paved last year) - click on each picture to enlarge.  Alternatively, you can go to www.virginiaroads.org for an interactive map.




 

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