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Scott supervisors relay concerns about unpaved roads to VDOT

Holly Viers • Nov 5, 2017 at 2:00 PM

GATE CITY — If you were to ask Scott County residents what they believe to be one of the biggest problems facing the county, chances are many would say secondary road conditions.

With more than 240 miles of gravel roads in Scott County, the second most in Virginia according to VDOT representative Allan Sumpter, residents have expressed concerns that the roads are often too dusty for safe travel. Now the board of supervisors is taking steps to address the issue.

Background

During the citizen expression period at last month’s BOS meeting, the issue of dusty secondary roads arose again and again, though the board was unable to take immediate action on its own to resolve the problem.

One resident said some of the roads had become dangerous to travel, while another said the dust was becoming a health hazard for those who live near the roads. In response to these concerns, board members vowed to contact VDOT to see if a solution could be found, whether it be using more liquid dust control treatment or paving the roads.

What happened Wednesday

Sumpter and Jackie Christian of VDOT’s Bristol district attended the board meeting to discuss the dusty roads issue. Sumpter said he was aware of the residents’ concerns and pointed out that “ideal weather” is needed to keep the roads from getting too dry or too wet.

He added that because of a formula established by the Virginia legislature, VDOT is not authorized to move funds from primary road maintenance to secondary road maintenance. The same rule that covers Scott County governs all other counties in the state, Sumpter explained.

BOS Chairman David Redwine responded by saying, “I think you’re operating under a set of guidelines that leaves Southwest Virginia and Scott County at a disadvantage, because I think we have situations here with our roads that are completely unique and probably unknown to the people in Richmond who are making the decisions. … I just feel like painting the entire state with one brush … and expecting them to get the same results is just unrealistic.”

Christian pointed out that in 2016, as part of a six-year plan, Scott County received $4.7 million in unpaved road money, which is more than surrounding counties got. So far this year, a portion of that funding has been used to pave 3.63 miles of gravel roads.

“We certainly are not trying to ignore the citizens of Scott County and try to do a bad job,” Sumpter said. “We’re trying to make best use of our resources and the funding the best that we can and try to help everybody a little bit as we get to it.”

What’s next

Supervisors approved a letter asking the Virginia legislature to allow Scott County to reallocate funds from primary road maintenance to secondary road maintenance as needed.

Board members also approved a resolution that will be sent to the other rural counties in Southwest Virginia. The resolution “request(s) the elected officials of those counties to join together to introduce legislation to restructure the guidelines under which VDOT operates, to better meet the needs of these rural counties.”

The next BOS meeting will be held Dec. 6.

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