Stafford County has received $8.4 million in transportation funding through the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) Revenue Sharing Program for roadway improvements on Shelton Shop Road, Leeland Road and the U.S. Route 1/Courthouse Road Intersection.
Transportation fund availability can vary each year as it is based mostly on gas tax dollars tied directly to gasoline sales and prices. This year, the coronavirus pandemic significantly impacted transportation funding on local, state and federal levels. To address some of the funding shortfalls in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Governor Northam made changes to the state's Six-Year Improvement Plan that reallocated funding for projects in the out years to ensure current project schedules are supported.
This reallocation of funding still allows Stafford County to advance several projects, including two projects identified in the 2019 Bond Referendum (www.staffordcountyva.gov/bond).
What is the Revenue Sharing Program?
Though VDOT is responsible for building and maintaining roads in the county, if a locality desires to improve county roads, they can apply for state funding to do so. The Board of Supervisors voted to take on road projects to augment the work being done by VDOT to help better manage the safety and congestion issues brought on by the rapid growth in population in Stafford. The Revenue Sharing Program provides matching state funds up to $5 million per year for a locality to use on qualifying projects.
How were these projects selected for Revenue Sharing Funds?
Following Virginia Code requirements, the priority for Revenue Sharing funding is given to construction projects that have previously received Revenue Sharing funding. These requirements apply to the Route 1/Courthouse Road Intersection project. After funding those requests, priority is next given to projects that meet a transportation need identified in the Statewide Transportation Plan (VTrans) or projects included in the locality's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). In Shelton Shop Road's case, several VTrans needs were identified for improvement, such as intersection improvements to increase safety and bicycle/pedestrian accessibility. All three of these projects are included in the County's Transportation CIP.
When will these projects be completed?
Among the most frequently asked questions regarding transportation projects is, "Why do they take so long to complete?" In short, the answer is that transportation projects are extensive and involve years of work and coordination before the first shovel ever hits the ground. Federal and state laws require certain studies, surveys and design work to be completed, including environmental, social and economic impacts. All stakeholders must review preliminary and final designs of the roadway, structures and bridges in the project, including affected property owners and local government, in order to obtain all needed easements and rights of way. And finally, all permits must be secured before construction begins.
During construction, numerous details require attention and unexpected circumstances – weather or a national pandemic – can cause delays. An afternoon rainstorm can cause a three-day delay while the ground dries out enough to ensure proper compaction. It can take nearly a month for concrete to harden to its maximum strength. Other issues such as the late delivery of materials or unforeseen discoveries such as underground utilities or unsuitable soil hidden below the surface add to the time of a project.
With those factors understood, design work is scheduled to begin on Shelton Shop in 2021 and on Leeland Road in the fall of 2022. Construction work along the U.S. Route 1 and Route 630 Courthouse Road Intersection is anticipated to begin in summer 2021 and be completed by winter 2022.
For more information on the County's transportation projects, please visit: https://staffordcountyva.gov/895/Transportation-Engineering