Thursday, September 29, 2022

JCC supes begin process to abandon road over Jolly Pond dam

In recent years, Jolly Pond Road over the dam has gradually deteriorated, culminating in a void developing beneath the roadway and rendering part of it unsafe for travel. (WYDaily/Courtesy of James City County)
In recent years, Jolly Pond Road over the dam has gradually deteriorated, culminating in a void developing beneath the roadway and rendering part of it unsafe for travel. (WYDaily/Courtesy of James City County)

Elected officials in James City County have voted to begin the process to abandon a dangerous section of Jolly Pond Road.

The James City County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday to start the abandonment process, resulting in a dead-end and a bit more of a drive for some area residents.

The process means abandonment notice will be posted in the local newspaper, at the courthouse and on the road itself, County Attorney Adam Kinsman said. If requested by the public, supervisors will have a public hearing on the matter.

“If there are any ideas or thoughts … that people want to pursue, this is the time to do it because the clock is ticking,” Supervisor John McGlennon said.

County supervisors previously deferred the decision on abandoning the road where it crosses the dam in June after motorists and residents in that area requested the county evaluate possible ways to keep it open.

“There’s been a lot of work behind the scenes,” Supervisor Michael Hipple said. “It’s been a very tough one and a very hard one to work through. It does put a heartache on the residents down there… The dam served us for a long time.”

The road has been the subject of concern and maintenance issues for years. It has gradually deteriorated over the dam because there is a void under part of the asphalt. Past efforts to find a low-cost, simple and long-term fix have come up empty-handed.

The dam is owned by William Kane, who has tried over the years to keep the road open to be a good neighbor. The dam requires extensive work, however, and the permitting process for Kane to do any of the work is slow, difficult and expensive.

The project could potentially top $2 million. County Administrator Scott Stevens has previously said he does not recommend the county pay for the large-scale project on the privately owned dam, but noted the county could “discuss” a smaller investment if it allows the road to reopen.

The Virginia Department of Transportation used to maintain Jolly Pond Road, including the area over the dam, but closed the road in 2009 because of safety concerns.

In an effort to help residents, James City County took ownership of that portion of road and reopened it three years later after some maintenance and repairs.

This time, the road has been closed since May 23.

“Again, we’re happy to hear any ideas or thoughts or some kind of solution to the problem,” McGlennon added before the board voted. “It’s painful to see a piece of infrastructure go away when it’s still being utilized.”

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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