Sunday, July 8, 2007

Chesterfield County Roads Issues

In a year that marked a Transportation Summit and a level of optimism in solving our trasnsportation issues its time to look at exactly what has been gained in the County of Chesterfield. The answer is simply that we are still asking questions.

The biggest problem facing the County today, outside of our school system issues, is indeed our road infrastructure. I count at least 100 articles and features in the last year regarding localities and the General Assembly's debate regarding transportation and yet after the session we are still tredding water.

While it is true we continue to ask some hard questions of our local government, it is time we stop asking and start DEMANDING results.

As expected, Chesterfield one of the fastest growing localities in the Commonwealth and an area that adds some 35 to 40 miles of road infrastructure each year through the Board of Supervisors pro-growth agendas will be getting very little support from State government. Giving the simple fact that we are not meeting our obligations in keeping up with existing infrastructure, it begs the question why the county continues to add additional roads at an estimated cost of about 7 million per mile.

Chesterfield will get an estimated 6.5 million a year over the next six years to pay for existing roads from the State in the newly passed transportation package supported by Governor Tim Kaine. In addition the county is pledged with some 23 million from the State. Given the overall package passed by the General Assembly, Chesterfield's gets are very small part of the 3 billion dollar package. The lion share of the package is headed to Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads areas.

While the results of the package from the State come as no surpirse to local government, it begs the question what measures have we taken to insure the future quality and safety of our road systems. Local governement is failing to adequately maintian our roads and at the same time continuing with an agenda placing larger volumes of traffic upon the very system they have been unable to fund.

Take a look at some of the traffic volume data from 1991 to 2003:

Between: 1991 2003
Branders Bridge/Lewis Road 18, 241 33,345
Lewis Rd./Centralia 19,192 35,118 (2004)
Rt 288/Beullah 19,974 44,779
Courthouse/Robious 48,477 66,425
Robious/Powhite 49,675 76,151
Chippenham/Jahnke 44,000 (1993) 65,504
Rt 288/ Charter Colony 13,616 (1992) 20,461
Buford/Robious 37,147 (1994) 52,441
Robious/Midlothian 27,943 44,156
Hull Street/Midlothian (Rt.150) 58,000 (1992) 83,184
Winterpock/Old Hundred 28,617 68,999
Rt 288/Genito 29,304 52,591

Looking at the proposed developments to go on line, (Magnolia Green, Roseland, Watkins Centre) we will be experiencing more increases in some of the highlighted road systems continuing forward that will place these roads in need of repair and upkeep going over the next ten years. Traditionally roads need to be resurfaced about every ten or so years, however current funding levels do not permit this and funds are being used to patch and repair those areas and are reactionary measures not preventative. It seems there is really no funding for "preventative" measures, which at the end of the day will cause even more expenditures by local government resulting from the neccessity of repairing systems that were not properly cared for over the course of the systems development.

The County requires leadership on this issue. The County cannot accept the rationale of looking to State government for the answers. State government has proved that the needs of Chesterfield are not a priority for the State. The State has its hands full with funding NVA. We need to look hard and hold those legislators we elect to represent us in this fight.

This was part of the campaign of Will Shemake in his bid for the Republican nomination for the 68th House of Delegates race. Mr. Shewmake lost in a firehouse primary to Manoli Loupassi who resides in the City of Richmond and will challenge Delegate Katherine Waddell this Fall. The arguement and point made by Shemake was simply; Who is representing Chesterfield in this battle? How many of our State legislators (Delegates and Senators)in the General Assembly reside in the county?

Fact remains Chesterfield being the four largest locality in the Commonwealth is under represented both in leadership and in funds. We must look to our own leadership on the Board of Supervisors. There was an opportunity to increase cash proffers and use funds from that increase to fund roads and services but the current board failed to raise proffers above its current rate. Subsequently, the Board lowered the property tax rate for residents in the County and failed to set aside any of the revenues for roads and business taxs (license fees) remain at current levels. It is apparent that the current Board means to move forward with its growth agenda and yet not make the hard descisions to adequetely pay for that growth.

It is purely political to standby and blame the State for the shortfall of funding. The demands required have been placed upon the community by a sustained growth rate outpacing funding resources not by the State but by local government. The fact remains that the demands upon our community's infrastructure require action and those supporting continued development should be held accountable. The time has come for action.

The time has come to stop waiting to see when the State will provide us with more funds. If our community is unable to pay for the sustained growth patterns endorsed by the Board of Supervisors than we should rein in growth and only support those endeavors that can be paid for through the developments themselves. Such community development authorities and special tax districts can be part of the solution for the "new" developments, but the challenge will be for measures to bring our existing infrastructure in line with growth.

We spent about a year asking transportation questions and its now time for leadership and action. Many of the current candidates for the election this Fall for all the seats on the Board of Supervisors seem content to keep the property tax levels (visit ) at the current level or criticize the level without stating how they would structure the tax rate to solve community issues such as roads.

This years election will shape Chesterfield for the next ten years. If we are content with the quality of life and status quo do nothing and nothing will change, but if we consider the repair costs we will experience on our very own vehicles (a tax if you will) due to poorly maintained road systems and analyze how a lack of action will impact our quality of life it is evident that a change may indeed be in order.


Anonymous said...

It is incredible how the very same elected officials on the Board are also commissioners in the Richmond Regional Planning Commission and can still manage to not come up with any significant solutions to the transportation problem. It begs the question how determined or committed are these Republicans, Sherman Litton included as he to is on the commission and heads Chesterfield Republican Party committee, in solving these issues.

James said...

Will so-called "impact fees" assist with future shortfalls in this area?

J. Scott said...

Actually the impact fees may fill a void. The recent Transportation bill passed by the General Assembly authorizes there use if the county wishes. The county would use these impact fees on developers who most likely are not going to be paying proffers.
Keep in mind counties like Loudon are challenging the Transportation Authority aspect of the bill as unconstitutional say stay tuned.

J. Scott said...

The County has defered until July 25, 2007 the formation of the Impact Fee Ordinance Committee to address such issues.

Anonymous said...

The county is growing at 2.4% a year in tersm of residential units and yet the Matoaca/Clover Hill corridor is growing at 2X the county average and the Planners keep pouring more zonings in that area.
West of Woodlake will look more like the corridor between Commonwealth and Woodlake within 5 years.