York Board Chairman: Six-Year Secondary Road Improvement Plan Needs a Makeover

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With a little more than $200,000 coming from the state for the improvement of secondary roads in the county each year, York supervisors are taking a look at methods of obtaining more funding for road projects.

The Virginia Department of Transportation Six-year Improvement Program, which provides funding for construction on local roads, includes funding in York County for two projects in 2015 and 2016: the Lakeside Drive project, which has already been completed, and the Penniman and Government roads intersection improvements project.

In 13 years, funding from VDOT for the projects dropped by more than $14 million, leaving only $1.2 million over six years to cover the two current projects, which cost a total of $11.9 million.

“There have been a lot of improvements in terms of transportation funding in the commonwealth,” Interim County Administrator Mark Carter said. “Unfortunately, that hasn’t trickled down in the secondary road program.”

With only about $204,000 allocated each year from the state, it would take 17 years to fully fund the $3.7 million Penniman Road project, which seeks to convert the “B” intersection to a “T” intersection. Carter said the area is “pretty heavily traveled.”

“It’s a pretty dismal picture in terms of secondary funding,” Carter said.

This year’s allocation will go directly to the remaining construction deficit for the Lakeside Drive project, which added left and right turn lane and curbing from Route 17 to the intersection of Lakeside and Old Lakeside drives. The project took nearly two years to complete.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Chairman Tom Shepperd proposed a work session to discuss other options for funding, such as using local dollars or VDOT’s revenue sharing program, which provides additional funding for road improvements as long as the locality matches the dollar amount.

“You know and I know looking down the road, there’s no magic amount of money coming from anywhere that is going to be put on these projects,” Shepperd said. He also suggested the board look at other road projects that could be more feasibly funded given the limited amount of VDOT money.

Supervisors Don Wiggins and Sheila Noll shot down the idea of using the money for smaller, less expensive projects, saying a better intersection at Penniman Road has been the goal for years.

“This has been on the books for a long time,” Noll said. “The people up in the area had this issue even before it came on the books with the board. There have been safety issues up there. I don’t want to eliminate this and say we’ll use the money elsewhere.”

Wiggins agreed, saying he would rather exhaust all efforts finding extra money to fund the project before allocating the $200,000 elsewhere.

“If it has to stay there for 20 years, at least it will get done in 20 years,” he said.

The board voted unanimously to approve this year’s improvement plan and pay off the entire Lakeside Drive project, and have agreed to discuss options for what to do with the forthcoming six-year program at a future work session.