Road funds go from $179K to ‘nothing’

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has allotted Rappahannock County $28,188 for road projects during fiscal year 2011-12. At this month’s board of supervisors meeting, County Administrator John McCarthy described this amount as “nothing.”

Furthermore, VDOT’s estimated annual allocations through 2017 is about $26,500. If the county puts all the allocations for the next six years together, McCarthy said, it would not have enough money to complete one project on VDOT’s Rappahannock County Secondary System Six Year Program list.

McCarthy remembers that in 1989, state funding to the county for road projects was $179,000.

Population is a significant factor in the amount of funds that the state of Virginia gives to a county, according to VDOT’s six-year-plan documentation; to a lesser degree — 20 percent — the allocation takes into account “area factors.”

The Route 729 bridge over Battle Run, and the Sperryville U.S. 522 bridge replacements are already funded and are not included in the fiscal year 2011-2012 allocation, McCarthy said.

Funding from other state sources will replace the bridge over Big Indian Run on Jericho Road (Route 637), said McCarthy. He added that the county has accumulated enough money from prior allocations to pave Battle Mountain Road (Route 640) near the intersection with Route 729.

The state’s six-year program lists include only new construction and replacing bridges. Funding for the projects derives from state collections, fees to title vehicles, taxes on vehicle sales, and one-half of one percent of the state sales tax.

Funds to maintain roads comes from a separate account of state money, McCarthy said, and this allotment is also running low. One repercussion of reduced finances is that the budget for mowing along roads has been halved.

“The overall quality of roads is likely to deteriorate, ” McCarthy said.

More than half of the unpaved roads in Rappahannock County — 37 out of 71 miles — have sufficient traffic to qualify for paving, according to VDOT. Constructing one mile of paved road costs a million and a half dollars.

Oil is a primary ingredient in making asphalt. If follows that as oil prices have risen, the cost of road building has likewise increased. McCarthy is aware of experimentation with other components, such as rubber, fiberglass and “glasphalt,” which makes use of recycled glass.

Public comments on the six-year program are welcome at the board’s regular monthly meeting next Monday (May 2) at the courthouse.

“You can ask people what projects they would like,” McCarthy told the supervisors at the April 4 meeting, “but you’re not going to be able to pay for them.”

About Alisa Booze Troetschel 30 Articles

By some folks’ standards, Alisa Booze Troetschel is a newcomer. She moved to northwest Virginia two years ago after completing graduate studies at the Missouri School of Journalism. She has photographed, written and edited for local, regional and national magazines and newspapers, while delighting in the beauty surrounding her new home.