Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Movin' on down the highway

In Goochland, transportation means roads. At their May 7 meeting, county supervisors spent a good bit of time discussing them.

Before moving to an informal workshop format, the Board heard a presentation from Matt Ryan, director of economic development. He is diligently working to encourage location of the possible children’s hospital in eastern Goochland, probably West Creek. With its excellent road access, and lots of room for expansion, this seems to be the ideal place for a medical facility to serve the entire region.

Ryan also discussed the new economic development website www.goochlandisforbusiness.com designed to provide information about doing business in Goochland.

Some sort of economic development session including the school board, supervisors, EDA, and other interested parties to promote Goochland is planned later in the year. An offshoot of the emphasis on economic development will be an initiative to change the incorrect generally negative perception of county schools.

Speaking of education, the Board appointed superintendent of schools Dr. James Lane as the county’s representative on the board of J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College. This will strengthen the relationship between JSRCC and our schools. Let’s just hope that Lane finds time to sleep.

The supervisors also unanimously approved contract amendments—read raises--for County Administrator Rebecca Dickson and County Attorney Norman Sales. The money for these salary enhancements was included in the recently approved budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins on July 1.

A public hearing on rezoning applications for land in the extreme northeastern part of the county was deferred until July to allow concerns about a relevant connection fee agreement to be ironed out. Good move, but this matter should have been addressed before it got to the planning commission stage.

During the evening session the Board approved a conditional use permit for the gunsmith on Fairground Road and another CUP for Field Day of the Past. “This is Goochland,” said Board Chair Ken Peterson District 5 during a brief discussion of the item.

The Board also passed an amendment to the county code regarding plan of development. (For details, please see the board packet located on the supervisors’ tab of the county website, www.co.goochland.va.us)

A rezoning application to divide one lot in the Granite Trace subdivision in two was deferred to permit further discussions with the landowners concerning proffer implications of the split.

Connie Reid, who has served Goochland in many capacities including the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and the Christmas Mother program, was recognized for her dedication to the community.

But roads, specifically money to improve them, consumed their attention.

First up was discussion of a Transportation Alternatives Program grant “opportunity.”  This involves federal money allocated to the Richmond region as part of a grant program. The deadline for applications was May 10, three days after the board meeting.

After lengthy discussions about what sort of projects these funds might be used for, including street lights in Centerville, the supervisors decided to pass on the opportunity. Susan Lascollette District 1 was concerned that there was too little information on which to base a sound decision and that the county might find itself obligated to provide matching funds down the way and suggested taking pass on this money. After thoughtful discussion, the rest of the board worked toward consensus and concurred.

The supervisors also asked that a list of projects that would qualify for similar opportunities in the future be compiled to enable the county to pursue federal grant dollars. Dickson indicated that similar programs may be available in coming years with greater notification before filing deadlines.

A continuation of the discussion of the projects to be advertised for public hearing on the county’s secondary six year road plan ensued.

Don’t get excited about this. The SSYRP could almost be called the “never never.” Each year, VDOT allocates the county a certain amount of money to improve secondary roads. As this amount is rather small, $63,781, the county accumulates the funds over several years until it has enough to fund a specific project. Often, the cost of making the improvements rises faster than the allocations pile up and little gets done.

Currently, there is about $700,000 available for road projects.

Presented with a list of proposed projects, the supervisors decided to advertise all of them for public hearing and make their finals decision after hearing what citizens have to say on the matter. Rural road improvements will be dealt with separately as more data was needed.

Selection criteria are based on safety needs and economic development impact. The projects under consideration include: improving Fairground Road from Sandy Hook Road to Route 250; improving the Sandy Hook/Fairground Road intersection, perhaps with a roundabout; extending Fairground Road to intersect with Route 6 west of Courthouse Village; realign Hockett Road as an extension of Ashland Road(they both have the same route number)removing the need for a traffic signal at Rt. 250; fund a safety and capacity study of Patterson Avenue essentially from the Henrico County line to Pagebrook and perhaps fund a traffic light to improve safety there.

The county probably needs all of those improvements, but, right now, there is not enough money.  The supervisors can only set priorities and hope for the best. Mike Cade, Administrator for the VDOT Ashland Residency, said that he does not yet know how much of the new road money resulting from the transportation tax increase, which starts July 1, will trickle down to Goochland.

While it does seem that road improvements take forever, some so eventually get finished, like the long awaited widening in Centerville and the just opened turn lane at Fairground Road and Rt. 250.

They also discussed the steps needed to reduce the speed limit on Rt. 250 between Ashland and Manakin Road to help create a village ambiance, and, at the same time create bike lanes.

Cade said that the new, wider lanes in Centerville are wide enough to accommodate a bike lane. He suggested striping the road, at minimal cost, to see if that reduces the speed of traffic by suggestion.








1 comment:

Pat said...

Sandy the web address you posted doesn't work. I think you meant this: