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Residents ask if the road will get paved this year

Transportation work by its nature often moves along slowly.

Some residents of a rural North Stafford community have found this out the hard way. They’re wondering if the little gravel-and-dirt road where they live will ever get a smooth paved surface.

Flippo Road, in the Widewater area, is only about a mile and a half long, just a blip in the county’s overall road system.

But to some of those who live in the 16 houses along it, the bumpy, gravel road is a pain.

“I’ve got friends of mine who won’t come see me,” said Glenn Hall, who has lived in the house with his wife, Betty, since the early 1980s. The couple said they have been after county and Virginia Department of Transportation officials much of that time asking for the road to be paved.

“I hate to complain,” said Glenn Hall, “but after 30 years I think it’s time that they start thinking about this road.”

The Halls and neighbor Rick Stephens said Flippo Road gets muddy when it snows or rains. When it’s really dry, cars kick up dust. Big pieces of gravel wreak havoc on tires. And, they said, school buses have sometimes gotten stuck on the road, with some drivers refusing to come down Flippo.

VDOT says the money is available and that the road should be paved in the coming months. The highway department’s paving schedule runs from April through October. Flippo Road could be paved at any point during that seven-month span.

The road is listed in VDOT’s rustic road program, which aims to pave, or at least improve, unpaved rural roads throughout the state. Guidelines determine which roads qualify for the program. Localities dictate which roads get on the list.

Flippo Road was first put on the list nearly a decade ago.

The Halls and Stephens said they’ve been told numerous times that the road would be paved. It has been regularly graded and gravel has been spread on it. They don’t think any of the work has done much good.

“The road is more like a logging road than a road,” said Stephens. “After so many years and so many promises, it seems like we’re still off the grid.”

In October, the Stafford County Board of Supervisors voted to have Flippo Road paved. Michael Smith, the county public works director, sent the Halls a letter saying the work is on the schedule.

VDOT’s Kelly Hannon said the $308,000 needed to pave the road is available.

So it appears to be a matter of when, not if.

She said it can take a while to get funding for the rural roads.

“Depending on the other needs of the secondary roads in a locality, it may take several years to accrue enough funding to hard-surface a single rural rustic road,” she said.

In each of the past three years, Stafford has received more than $400,000 from the state to pave rural roads.

Last year, according to VDOT, six area rural roads were “hard surfaced” as part of the program.

Flippo Road is one of two Stafford roads on the list this year. The other one is Wyatt Lane off Enon Road near Stafford High School.

Stephens and the Halls are taking a wait-and-see approach with their little stretch of road in Widewater.

“It’s a state road,” said Stephens. “We just expect normal service, not a substandard dirt road.”

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436