- Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 23:11
- Published on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 23:11
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The status of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) proposal to make improvements to Route 625 (Salem Church Rd.) in King George is unclear at this point.
That was the message conveyed by VDOT officials at a public citizen information meeting in the county held earlier this month on Nov. 15.
VDOT had sent letters on Oct. 27 to inform adjacent property owners about the meeting and outlining its two proposed design alternatives to flatten out two successive, existing 90-degree curves in the road and to raise the vertical alignment to resolve chronic drainage issues.
More than a dozen people attended the meeting, including nine adjacent landowners and a representative from Woodlawn.
Also present were Shiloh Supervisor Cedell Brooks, At-large Supervisor Dale Sisson, county administrator Travis Quesenberry, and county Zoning Enforcement Officer/Planner Heather Straughan, along with several VDOT officials, including Project Manager Greg Huffman, Bob Pickett and David Brown, the Northern Neck residency administrator.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES WOULD BE AFFECTED
Woodlawn’s property manager Gerri Ludwig said they had objections, but noted she was present at the meeting to collect information. She added, “They do want you to know this is a designated historical area where artifacts have been found over the years.”
Ludwig also asked for an informal poll of those for and against improvements, saying they wanted to know how Woodlawn’s neighbors felt. A show of hands indicated the proposed road improvements were overwhelmingly desired by the residents present at the meeting.
The improvements to the road section would affect property in the Woodlawn Archeological & Historical District, and the Greater Port Royal Rural Historic District.
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) holds a preservation easement on the Woodlawn property and advised in a letter dated on Nov. 15, the day of the citizen meeting, that its easement program coordinator must be provided an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed undertaking and how it may affect the easement property.
Ludwig told The Journal this week that they are in the process of drafting comments to go to VDOT regarding the project.
The main concern appears to be that the construction area and associated easements would impact the archeological area with alterations to the historical setting and feeling of the historic district, along with concerns about the loss of potential artifacts not yet discovered.
VDOT’s Huffman said they are trying to do the best they can for the smallest footprint to affect historical properties, but to keep people out of the ditch.
IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED TO ROUTE 625
The location of the section of the road proposed for improvements is near the southern end of Route 625, about 2 miles east of US 301.
About the proposal for the windy, narrow road, the VDOT letter said, “VDOT has determined that the section does not meet current design specifications.”
The letter recounted that, “Especially during rain and snow events, water on the surface of the roadway collects and ponds, making the road dangerous when icy and sometimes impassable.”
It also said, “Due to its age the road has never been subjected to modern road engineering, it lacks shoulders which are an important design feature.”
TWO ALTERNATIVES PROPOSED
VDOT is considering two separate options that would alleviate flooding by raising the vertical alignment of the road and flattening the two curves. Alternative I would utilize geometric design standards that apply to rural collector roads.
The minimum lane width would be 10 feet with two-foot wide shoulders and six-foot wide ditches.
Alternative II would utilize design standards for rural rustic roads with nine-foot lane widths, two-foot wide shoulders and three-foot wide ditches. The illustrations of the two options can be viewed on our website, www.journalpress.com.
The VDOT letter indicated that the proposed improvement project is federally funded, with Huffman saying at the meeting that current funding for the project is $1.2 million.
A tentative construction schedule called for advertisement of a bid for construction in 2014. Huffman said that schedule could be pushed back, depending on the alignment chosen and what archeological assessments must be completed, along with necessary easement acquisition.