By MELINDA WILLIAMS
For years, Pulaski County has been postponing and scaling back projects on its Six-Year Secondary Road Improvement Plan due to dwindling state funds, but it may be able to move forward with a few of those lingering projects in a couple of years.
David Clarke, resident maintenance manager for Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) says he expects Pulaski County to “get a lot more money” for secondary roads in a couple of years under Gov. Bob McDonnell’s new transportation bill. However, he said it still will not be anywhere near what the state used to contribute.
Clarke said he expects 2013-14 funds to be about the same as funds received for the current fiscal year ($82,000, according to Pulaski County Board of Supervisors Chairman Joe Sheffey). However, during the last three years of the six-year plan (2016-2019) Clarke is expecting the county to receive about $400,000 each year.
As a result, Clarke suggested the supervisors may want to add a few more projects to the plan.
To stress how much secondary road funds have declined over the years, Sheffey pointed out the county received $1.6 million for secondary roads in the year 2000, compared to $82,000 for the current fiscal year. “That’s just barely paying for maintenance,” he said.
Sheffey said he is hopeful the change in transportation funding will “make a big difference.” He said he wishes the county could address all concerns citizens bring before the board with regards to road conditions, but the money just isn’t there to do so.
Clarke also pointed out that there are limits as to how the funds can be spent.
During a public hearing held Monday night on the six-year plan, residents of Bethel Church Road came out to urge the county to include it in the plan. A spokesman for the group pointed out they first petitioned the county for improvements in 1988 and have been on a waiting list to get placed on the plan since then.
Saying the road has 100 cars per day using it, the spokesman said it serves almost as a “natural watershed to Claytor Lake,” adding that it is like some days, “You start at the top and it’s all downhill from there.”
Calling the road’s condition “atrocious,” the spokesman added, “We’ve been on the waiting list nearly 25 years. We feel our place on the list needs to be aggressively considered.”
Another county citizen asked that Hedge Lane be placed in the plan and Massie District Supervisor Andy McCready suggested Wilson Road might be added because several residents have approached the board about its condition over the past year.
However, Draper District’s representative, Dean Pratt, said the board should look at adding a project from the waiting list before adding a road that hasn’t been on the waiting list.
The board hasn’t made a decision yet as to what projects to add to the plan.