Secondary Roads Plan Backed

The Essex County Board of Supervisors has adopted a Secondary Six-Year Road Plan in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) whereupon six roadways will receive improvements.

Lee McKnight, the administrator for VDOT’s Saluda Residency, told the supervisors during their business meeting that $376,280 has been allocated to cover expenses for the plan’s projects.

Of that amount, $202,046 will be used to upgrade unpaved roads with daily vehicle counts of 50 or more. The remaining $174,234 comes from TeleFees which utilities pay VDOT to place their infrastructure within the right-of-ways.

“No other projects will be eligible for additional funding this year due to funding constraints of the program,” McKnight told the supervisors.

Roads included on the plan are:

• Route 654 (Rectory Road), estimated cost $50,255. This project is currently under construction with completion expected this summer;

• Route 676 (Lewis Level Road), estimated cost $49, 312. Construction is slated to begin next spring;

• Route 675 (Carpenters Rest Road), estimated cost $147,328. Construction will begin spring of 2025;

• Route 673 (Polar Grove Road), estimated cost $96,641. Construction will begin spring 2026.

• Route 709 (Clover Lane), estimated cost $13,278. Construction will begin in spring 2026.

• Route 679 (Belmont Road), estimated cost $49,312. Construction is scheduled to begin spring 2027.

“Please keep in mind this is the plan for new improvements and new construction only,” McKnight cautioned the supervisors. “Maintenance is a different plan and a different pot of money.”

There were no public comments made during a hearing regarding the plan.

In an unrelated matter, the supervisors took no action on a request to transfer monies ($55,000) generated from the sale of the Ware’s Wharf property for used by the county’s Parks and Recreation Department for improvements at the Rotary Poor House Park.

Interim County Administrator April Rounds opposed the transfer as the funds are to be used exclusively for waterfront access projects.

“I would almost not recommend this because those funds were earmarked for water access, period,” said North District Supervisor Sidney Johnson. “I will publicly admit I made a mistake when I voted back when we decided to sell this parcel. I made a serious mistake and I take ownership of it. We should have never sold it, but we did. And, because we did money was earmarked for waterfront access and it need to be used for that only, period.”

Central District Supervisor John Magruder noted that the town and county have partnered on a study of waterfront access sites.

“I think it would be premature to allocate this money to Parks and Recreation without this study,” he said. “Or at all. I fully agree with Supervisor Johnson that it was earmarked for waterfront property.”

South District Supervisor Ronnie Gill, who was not a member of the Board of Supervisors when the property was sold, said he agreed with his colleagues.

“Do we account for the interest accrued on these funds,” he asked.

“It does accrue interest with all our other money,” explained county Treasurer B.A. “Penny” Davis.

“So, when we appropriate funds like this is it our policy not to attach the interest to it?” Gill asked.

“We usually do not,” Davis replied.

Public access to the site was closed due to a variety of issues, including safety, before the property was eventually sold.

In another matter, the supervisors agreed to transfer funds received from a Forest Sustainability Fund Grant ($7,622.23) to the Parks and Recreation Department for Rotary Poor House Park improvements.

Magruder said the grant allows the funds to be utilized as the Parks and Recreation Department proposes.

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