Monday, February 13, 2012

Rolling up the rug Part II

The Goochland Board of Supervisors is making changes large and small to better serve their constituents as they promised during last year’s elections.

At the Board’s February 7 meeting, there were quite many indications that things are changing for the better. Here are some random observations on the session.

During budget workshops, the board sits at a bank of tables against the conference room wall facing presenters and citizens. This casual atmosphere encourages meaningful and productive discussion, which will lead to good, but hard, budget decisions.

Like their counterparts on the school board, the new supervisors are learning at warp speed while bringing their varied skill sets to the table.

Board vice chair Ken Petersen District 5 suggested that the county be fiscally proactive in good times so it can ensure adequate funding for necessary county functions in an economic downturn. This may not seem like an earth shaking proposal, but it represents a radical departure from the past.

Manuel Alvarez, District 2 announced that he has been researching the best way to implement live internet streaming of board meetings, which will hopefully commence with the March 6 meeting. Yet another campaign promise immediately addressed. The school board started live streaming last month.

When the new supervisors got their first checks—they get paid twice a month—they found $50 more than expected. Seems their predecessors gave themselves an extra $100 a month, essentially a 10 percent annual bonus. How much gas could the county have bought with that $7,200?

County attorney Norman Sales told the board that the county code “is a mess” and replete with poorly drafted ordinances. He plans to redo the laws by revising an entire chapter of the code when updating local laws to reflect changes made by the General Assembly each year. The improvements just keep on coming!

Sales will also work on resolving the boundary issue with Louisa County that has been in the works since the wedding of Pocahontas. It seems likely that impediments to resolution of that issue, at least on the Goochland side, should be few this time around.

Rob Crandol, from VDoT, the state agency whose motto is “oops!” reported that the Broad Street Road project in Centerville will be completed by July.

However, said Crandol, VDoT realizes that the Manakin and Broad Street Road interchange, still under construction, isn’t “quite right” so it will need to be quickly reengineered. Seems it’s too narrow for large trucks and horse trailers to negotiate the corner.

Crandol made this bizarre statement with a straight face. The widening project, whose justification is lost in the mists of time, had been under consideration for almost a decade. During that time, many public meetings were held by VDoT officials equipped with maps and road cross sections of Centerville.

Why didn’t anyone from VDoT bother to research the type of vehicles use the Manakin/Broad Street Roads intersection and design the lanes accordingly? Is that really such a complicated matter? Surely there must be a chart at VDoT central with lane widths and turn radii that will accommodate horse trailers and dump trucks.

These folks, whose jobs should be eliminated immediately, gave the impression that the finished widened road would look very like Broad Street Road east of Centerville with a grassed median.

We were told when construction began that there was some extra money available for amenities including the traffic signal at Company 3, sidewalks and landscaping.

The sidewalks in front of the Broadview Shopping Center are little more than paved continuations of the curb, right at the edge of the roadway. Instead of encouraging “walkability” in what was supposed to be the charming Centerville Village, they dare pedestrians to play in traffic.

The median is an ugly thing that may eventually have some sort of vegetation. About the only thing this median accomplishes is to cut off the Shell station, which has been there for at least 15 years, from westbound traffic. Bob Minnick District 4 asked Crandol to address this issue. Why wasn’t it part of the original plan? The Shell station has been there for about 15 years. Did the great engineers at VDoT miss that too?

Crandol said that completion of most of the project will be delayed until the asphalt plants reopen in warmer weather. This can’t some soon enough so motorists can stop playing dodge the barrels, which is great fun on rainy nights. Crandol expects the barrel maze to be gone by mid-April.
Our state officials must reform VDoT and not just slough off road maintenance and construction to localities.

If the Broad Street Road widening, which has cost about a bazillion dollars and taken far too long, is any indication, this agency is a fiscal and engineering disaster.


Anonymous said...

The Broad Street widening project is a mess. your points are spot on with the ineptitude and lack of vision. We have a ton of room out here, and they essentially make it look like Midlothian turnpike. It doesn't resemble what we have east of the Manakin road intersection, and I find it hard to see how they will grow trees or anything in the median, as I believe they paved everything from one side of the road to another, and just placed curbs on top of the pavement.

Anonymous said...

Is there going to be a light at Manakin Road and Broad. It was my understanding that they would have a light, but I see no poles?

Anonymous said...

Oops is right . Did they mention what July of what year they would finish? Now we can't get to Shell, or Suntrust. This project is a mess and a great example of someone sitting in office dictating what Goochland needs rather than basing it on being here.

Michael M. McDermott said...

Recount Rudy's last hurrah, Butler Boulevard, or better yet, The Tuckyhoe Turnpike!