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Improvements coming to East Main

It may be even longer before the rest of East Main Street is widened to four lanes, but it appears some improvements will be coming to that area before too long.
Pulaski Town Council Tuesday instructed staff to work with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to develop some alternative improvements that could be accomplished with nearly $4.5 million in urban funds that have been collecting in the town’s urban roads account.
The funds were being accumulated to cover the cost of widening East Main (Rt. 99) from the Bob White Boulevard intersection to the town limits. However, VDOT recently advised the town that funds are not collecting in the account fast enough to keep up with escalating costs for the widening project.
The estimated shortfall for the project currently stands at about $12 million. However, funds are collecting in the account only at about $150,000 per year.
“Inflation is outrunning the allocations” coming to the town, Leo Rutledge Jr., VDOT’s Urban Program manager, told council members during a monthly work session.
Rutledge asked whether there is any way VDOT could cut the project into “bite-sized pieces” so that the $4 to $4.5 million in funds already in the account can be used.
He asked whether the same designs that were developed for the project in 1995 need to be altered since there have been changes along the corridor since that time.
“We need to revisit where (the project) is going and where it needs to go and tailor it to use the funds we have,” Rutledge added.
He noted that about $600,000 already has been spent on developing plans for the widening project. As long as the accumulated funds are used on a project in that same corridor, the town will not “be on the hook for” reimbursing those funds, the VDOT official noted.
The plans that were developed apparently are no longer of use because they were developed at a time VDOT was pushing for a switch to metric measures and the software that was used is outdated. According to Rutledge, neither the metric system nor the software are being used by VDOT now.
“We need to roll up our sleeves and see what priorities you have out there now and what challenges you see” to projects there, said Rutledge.
Thomas DiGiulian, VDOT’s district location and design engineer, said some of the possibilities in that area include:
• New traffic signals and improvements to the intersection at East Main and Bob White Boulevard, about $2 million.
• Upgrading the proposed four-lane section to two-lane standards with wider shoulders that could serve as bike lanes, about $3 million excluding the two bridges. He said widening the bridge over the railroad tracks to include bike lanes would cost about $900,000.
Rutledge said the town will continue to receive urban funds each year. Using the Rt. 99 funds for a project would allow that project to be cleared out so a widening project for Peppers Ferry Road could be added into the urban funding projects next year.
Worrell said he hates to “give up on” the four-lane project on Rt. 99, but “this looks like a good opportunity to get some improvements done out there.’
Town Manager John Hawley said using these funds for improvements isn’t necessarily “giving up on” widening that corridor to four lanes.
“Oh, I know. We’ll never give up on that,” Worrell noted.

Improvements coming to East Main

It may be even longer before the rest of East Main Street is widened to four lanes, but it appears some improvements will be coming to that area before too long.
Pulaski Town Council Tuesday instructed staff to work with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to develop some alternative improvements that could be accomplished with nearly $4.5 million in urban funds that have been collecting in the town’s urban roads account.
The funds were being accumulated to cover the cost of widening East Main (Rt. 99) from the Bob White Boulevard intersection to the town limits. However, VDOT recently advised the town that funds are not collecting in the account fast enough to keep up with escalating costs for the widening project.
The estimated shortfall for the project currently stands at about $12 million. However, funds are collecting in the account only at about $150,000 per year.
“Inflation is outrunning the allocations” coming to the town, Leo Rutledge Jr., VDOT’s Urban Program manager, told council members during a monthly work session.
Rutledge asked whether there is any way VDOT could cut the project into “bite-sized pieces” so that the $4 to $4.5 million in funds already in the account can be used.
He asked whether the same designs that were developed for the project in 1995 need to be altered since there have been changes along the corridor since that time.
“We need to revisit where (the project) is going and where it needs to go and tailor it to use the funds we have,” Rutledge added.
He noted that about $600,000 already has been spent on developing plans for the widening project. As long as the accumulated funds are used on a project in that same corridor, the town will not “be on the hook for” reimbursing those funds, the VDOT official noted.
The plans that were developed apparently are no longer of use because they were developed at a time VDOT was pushing for a switch to metric measures and the software that was used is outdated. According to Rutledge, neither the metric system nor the software are being used by VDOT now.
“We need to roll up our sleeves and see what priorities you have out there now and what challenges you see” to projects there, said Rutledge.
Thomas DiGiulian, VDOT’s district location and design engineer, said some of the possibilities in that area include:
• New traffic signals and improvements to the intersection at East Main and Bob White Boulevard, about $2 million.
• Upgrading the proposed four-lane section to two-lane standards with wider shoulders that could serve as bike lanes, about $3 million excluding the two bridges. He said widening the bridge over the railroad tracks to include bike lanes would cost about $900,000.
Rutledge said the town will continue to receive urban funds each year. Using the Rt. 99 funds for a project would allow that project to be cleared out so a widening project for Peppers Ferry Road could be added into the urban funding projects next year.
Worrell said he hates to “give up on” the four-lane project on Rt. 99, but “this looks like a good opportunity to get some improvements done out there.’
Town Manager John Hawley said using these funds for improvements isn’t necessarily “giving up on” widening that corridor to four lanes.
“Oh, I know. We’ll never give up on that,” Worrell noted.