Two members of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors voted against the secondary six-year plan due to concerns of road safety measure prioritization.
The Board recently approved the secondary six-year plan that will be used in a joint venture with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
This plan will fund improvements on secondary roads and other safety measures in the county over a six-year period spanning from the fiscal year 2021 through 2026.
The Board also approved a budget plan to spend over $535,000 with funds from both the county and VDOT for the proposed improvements.
The vote for approval wasn’t unanimous, however, as Garrisonville District Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer and Griffis-Widewater District Supervisor Tinesha Allen both voted against the plan.
“I voted against because some money that could be used for road safety projects was approved for paving rural dirt roads. It’s a matter of priorities. People who built homes on rural roads made a choice. Some make outrageous claims of promises made. Absolutely not! Should we spend every dollar available on road safety that benefits all drivers or spend it on roads that are used by a very few? This was an easy decision for me. It was political for others,” stated Dudenhefer in an email.
Allen also gave a statement on why she voted against the secondary plan.
“The safety measures for our roads ought to take precedence over paving. It saves lives, and prevents property damages. I have driven and seen areas in our county, including my district, where some of the roads and residents, would greatly benefit from safety improvements more so than paving,” stated Allen in an e-mail.
The approved plan was originally conceived by the county’s Infrastructure Committee and was the second of two options.
Option one would have prioritized the safety projects and re-directed available tele-fees to fund identified safety improvements and set aside funds for future safety projects. Tele-fees are fees collected from telecom and utility companies whose lines run through right-of-ways owned by VDOT.
The second option that the Board approved will include the hard surfacing of the county’s remaining unpaved roads and make some selected safety improvements.
George Washington District Supervisor Tom Coen commented in a phone call with Potomac Local News about why he voted for the plan.
“The two plans when put side by side weren’t that different. The plan we chose provides for both the paved roads and for the safety measures, so I don’t see it as an either/or choice. We have had commitments of paving the rural roads and once those are done then attention can be given to the road safety measure of which the county is spending $1 million a year on,” Coen said.
This all comes a year after a big push to improve safety conditions on county roads after the death of 17-year-old Colonial Forge High School student Helen Wang. Changing Stafford’s Roads (CSR) is a group that was started in the wake of Wang’s passing by a group of her fellow classmates.
Wang died in a car crash while trying to turn from a dirt road at the Abel Lake Reservoir onto the narrow Kellogg Mill Road, a two-lane road that winds through the heart of the county.
CSR is credited with helping convince local leaders to take action and put forward to voters a $50 million bond referendum for improving road conditions. The group also took their cause to Richmond to discuss with state officials to advocate for changes to make roads safer in the County.
Below is the list of roads that are currently planned for repaving. The cost will be $1.4 million over the course of the six-year period:
- Brent Point Road
- New Hope Church Road
- Monroe Farm Road
- Cedar Grove Road
- Lynnhaven Lane Service District
Several safety additions are currently planned as well. Below is a list of the measure currently planned for the six-year period which will cost $6.6 million:
- Decatur Road and Ramoth Church Road shoulder widening
- Onville Road shoulder widening
- School crossing safety improvements
- Harrell Road intersection realignment
- Winding Creek Road and Shelton Shop Road intersection improvements
- Garrisonville Road traffic signals
- Brooke Road spot improvements
This plan still must be approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board that will hold its next meeting on July 15. The board has yet to finalize a location for the meeting to take place.