Cathy Dyson writes about King George County.
Which unpaved road is the priority?
A mile-long stretch of road in King George County is stirring up a lot of dirt.
Residents of Eagles Nest Lane on the Potomac River are upset because they’ve waited 20 years for their road to be paved.
Then, after the Virginia Department of Transportation workers started the project, the county told them last month to stop.
Members of the Board of Supervisors applied the brakes because they say they need to re-examine their road priorities. They say they didn’t know that Eagles Nest Lane, State Route 682, had jumped to the top of the list, even though it’s been on the county’s six-year road plan since 2007—a plan the board has approved each year.
Adding to the issue is the other road that supervisors said they believed was their top priority. That’s Alden Road, State Route 620.
Dale Sisson Jr. is the supervisor who questioned why it wasn’t at the top of the list. His parents live on Alden Road, but then, he also has relatives on Eagles Nest Lane.
“There is a lot of confusion about which road is the priority,” Sisson said in November, when the issue first came up.
ALDEN DROPPED OFF PLAN
According to county and VDOT records, Alden Road hasn’t been on King George’s secondary road plan since 2008. It was on the books for 2009, then got dropped when the plan had to be scaled back because of the state’s budget shortfall.
According to meeting minutes, none of the supervisors mentioned Alden Road in May 2010 or May 2011 when they unanimously approved the six-year road plan.
It wasn’t brought up until VDOT discussed paving Eagles Nest Lane two months ago.
Residents along the road are part of the Eagle Bay waterfront community, which is off State Route 218 and past the Fairview Beach area. They are dismayed that they got so close to finally having their road paved, only to have the county intervene.
Led by Ed Veazey, they asked the supervisors in December to “stay the course” and finish the work.
They came back last week with a petition, signed by more than 40 people, some of whom pointed out potholes and the terrible mess in general the road becomes when it rains.
Resident Rosier Dedwylder also asked the supervisors for an explanation.
“I just want someone to please explain [this] to us,” Dedwylder said. “If you change your mind, don’t you have to discuss it with us?”
A RURAL RUSTIC ROAD
The road confusion started on Nov. 15, when VDOT administrator David Brown came to King George to discuss the Rural Rustic Program for unpaved roads.
He mentioned that Eagles Nest fits the bill. It carries less than 1,500 vehicles per day and isn’t expected to have more growth. He needed the board to pass a resolution identifying the road as a rural rustic route.
That’s when Sisson brought up Alden Road. He and other board members thought it was the next priority. He wanted to know when Eagles Nest did a leap-frog to get in front of Alden.
Brown wasn’t sure of the history. King George became a part of the Northern Neck residency in 2010, and Brown has been in his post just a year.
After a confusing discourse among supervisors, then Chairman Joe Grzeika suggested that VDOT bring back the county’s six-year plan for another look.
But Eagles Nest residents don’t want to wait. They say that if VDOT had been allowed to do its work, the project would have been finished by March.
“They’ve already got the road ready to go,” Dedwylder said in December.
He and others mentioned that engineering and environmental work had been done and trees trimmed to accommodate the trucks.
“It would be better policy to complete this road,” Veazey said last week, “and not have VDOT go back and forth.”
Even VDOT project manager Clyde Hathaway told Veazey in an email he was “very surprised” when he got the notice to shut down the work on Eagles Nest Lane.
‘GET ONE OFF THE BOOKS’
Supervisor John LoBuglio, whose district includes Eagles Nest Lane, said last week that he was in favor of having VDOT finish the work instead of waiting until March to decide. He serves on a Virginia Association of Counties’ transportation committee and said there are a lot of unpaved roads in the state. Agencies such as VDOT prefer to “at least get one off the books and address the other ones as they come up,” he said.
LoBuglio said there’s money in VDOT’s budget for the paving of Eagles Nest Lane, which costs about $275,000. It would cost about $700,000 to pave Alden Road, he said.
No supervisors commented on LoBuglio’s suggestion. Chairman Cedell Brooks Jr. thanked the residents for their input and said the board would discuss the matter in March.