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Bridge work funded
Some of costs to improve bridge in CTB program

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

By FROM BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -

The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) recently approved a draft Six-Year Improvement Program that includes funding to repair the bridge on Commonwealth Boulevard near Lester Street in Martinsville.

Funds for the project would start accumulating in 2017, according to a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) website.

“The bridge is sound” and in no danger of collapsing, said City Manager Leon Towarnicki. As it gets older, however, it needs more and more maintenance work that is getting beyond the city’s capacity to handle, he said.

The estimated cost of repairing the bridge is $1,365,000, information on the VDOT website shows.

The Six-Year Improvement Program is updated annually. This year’s approved draft runs from fiscal 2014, which will begin July 1, to fiscal 2019. It includes a total of $439,000 in VDOT allocations for the bridge starting in fiscal 2017.

If the city wants to get the repairs done by fiscal 2019, Martinsville will have to come up with about $925,000 on its own. If not, the repairs may have to wait until beyond that year, according to VDOT Salem District spokesman Jason Bond.

In that case, the project could be done after Martinsville’s annual allocations from VDOT reach the cost of repairs, or when the city can contribute enough to make up the difference between the cost of repairs and what VDOT can afford to pay, according to Bond.

Towarnicki said about $139,000 is in the six-year plan in fiscal 2014 to help cover the cost of improvements to some streets uptown. The city would have to match the funds, he said.

The plan also reflects ongoing improvements to Liberty Street, he added.

The plan does not include funds for any new secondary road improvements in Henry and Patrick counties, Bond said. Due to a state funding shift last year, funds for new secondary road improvements will not be available to localites until fiscal 2017, he said.

Henry County Deputy Administrator Dale Wagoner noted that the six-year plan reflects ongoing improvements being made to Preston and Irisburg roads.

“We’d certainly like to have more money,” Wagoner said, but county officials realize that due to state budget constraints, “not a lot of money is going anywhere.”

Funds to improve U.S. 58 are part of legislation approved by the General Assembly. The project will be financed through bonds, the legislation shows.

Overall, the draft six-year plan outlines the CTB’s plan to distribute the anticipated funds for public transit, rail and interstate and primary highway construction projects for the fiscal years 2014-2019, according to a release from the CTB.

The $15.4 billion draft program includes almost $4 billion in additional statewide transportation funding to be invested in the commonwealth’s transportation network as identified by HB 2313, a transportation funding plan recently signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The portion of the Six-Year Improvement Program for the Salem District includes $533 million for project development and construction. This is an increase of more than 20 percent from last year’s $431 million program for the district.

Two major projects currently under development continue to receive funding in the draft program. Funding is included for the $46.8 million Interstate 81 exit 150 improvement project in Botetourt County and the $46.7 million Route 460 Southgate interchange project in Blacksburg.

A key component of the draft is the rehabilitation of the transportation system with the new revenues supporting VDOT’s efforts to extend the life of pavement and replace bridges. For the Salem District, the draft identifies funding to continue preliminary engineering to develop plans to replace more than 50 bridges.

According to the release, the major new highlights of the draft program for Salem District include:

• An additional $47.1 million for paving and pavement rehabilitation projects for interstate and primary roads.

• An additional $47 million to eliminate the shortfall in funding to replace the northbound I-81 bridge over the New River. The $78.1 million project now is fully funded and expected to be advertised for construction bids in fiscal 2018.

• An additional $6.5 million identified to install a variable speed limit system on I-77 between mile markers 0 and 12 in Carroll County. The project is expected to be advertised for work to start in fiscal 2014.

• An additional $2.8 million to cover cost increases on the Route 603 Ironto/Elliston Connector project in Montgomery County. This $19.7 million project is expected to be advertised for construction bids in fiscal 2014.

• An additional $8.9 million to pave unpaved secondary roads with traffic volumes of more than 200 vehicles per day.

• An additional $11.3 million for counties to prioritize as part of secondary road improvements. These funds are identified in the program in fiscal 2017-2019.

The public can review the draft program and provide input, which will be taken into consideration by the CTB before the final program is adopted in June. The fiscal 2014-2019 program will go into effect July 1, the release added.

The CTB will hold public hearings across the state to solicit public comments about rail, transit, transportation demand management, bicycle, pedestrian and highway projects in the draft.

The public hearing for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Salem, Bristol, Lynchburg and Staunton districts will be held at 6 p.m. on June 4 at Northside High School in Roanoke.

 

 
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