Thursday, March 22, 2012

Country roads

We have a plan!

The March 16 Goochland Planning Commission meeting was the first such session to be streamed live over the internet.

The only public hearing concerned an application for a conditional use permit to operate a landscaping supply business on a floodplain fringe located on the north side of Patterson Avenue on the site of an old drive-in theater. The CUP, which received unanimous recommendation for approval, is required by county ordinance.

Commission chair Courtney Hyers District 5 was reelected over an objection by outgoing District 4 commissioner Joe Andrews.

The most interesting part of the evening, however, was a community meeting for both Goochland and Powhatan facilitated by the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission ( on the 2035 rural long range transportation plan.

Only a small handful of citizens from Goochland were in attendance at the 6 p.m. meeting. Supervisors Susan Lascollete District 1; Manuel Alvarez, Jr. District 2 and board vice chair Ken Petersen District 5 were present.

Were you aware that Goochland, east of about Fairground Road is considered urban for transportation (read roads) planning purposes? That part of the county is lumped in with Henrico, Richmond, Hanover, Chesterfield and part of New Kent and Charles City counties.

The rest of the county is deemed to be rural.

Happily, the RRPDC seems to understand that folks living in the more sparsely populated parts of both counties have little interest in high capacity thoroughfares that encourage dense development. Rather, the RRPDC proposal looks at ways to make existing roads safer by fixing bridges, mending road surfaces, improving sight distance, increasing the lane width and straightening dangerous curves.

A wish list of 20 local projects is included in the draft of the 2011 2035 Rural Long Range Transportation Plan.

These projects, modest in scope and projected cost, include: improvements to major area roads including Fairground and Hadensville Fife Roads; the bridge over Whitehall Creek, scheduled for repair this month and the over the CSX tracks on Rt. 522 south of Rt. 6.

Sadly, the plan does not include a limited access connector road between Oilville Road and Rt. 6 near the Maidens Bridge to get chicken and log trucks off of Fairground Road.

Whitehall and Sandy Hook Roads are also major connectors that were not built to handle the heavy truck traffic that rumbles over their surfaces every day.

Although presenters were careful to point out that there is no funding to complete the projects on the wish list, some are in the works.

Repairs to the bridge over Johnson Creek on Tabscott Road were completed last August. Work on the bridge over Whitehall Creek is expected to begin soon.

Petersen urged VDOT to look at Goochland’s entire road system in its planning. He said that the major routes are improved to handle more vehicles, but no thought it given to unimproved the secondary and tertiary roads that are then expected to absorb the increased traffic.

Given VDOT’s penchant for inefficient operations, illustrated by construction of the Centerville Speedway, it will be years, if ever, before the relatively modest sums needed to make these improvements materializes.

The General Assembly, which met for a whopping three minutes the other day, needs to forego its obsession with social issues and fix VDOT.

The background report (sent as an attachement to the notification) contains a great deal of interesting information about population growth in the region. It also provides insight about the land use attitudes that shape transportation planning in Virginia.

Simply stated, dense population centers get the road dollars first. All other places wait in line, maybe forever.

1 comment:

Pat said...

Simply stated, dense population centers get the road dollars first. All other places wait in line, maybe forever."

Chicken and egg, perhaps? Build good roads and you end up with dense population??? Maybe we don't want to rush on improving the roads? I kind of like those winding roads when I take my old Vette out for a spin.