Federal Funds for Roads?

Federal Funds for Roads?

Supervisors worry adding federal money to three Loudoun projects will slow construction process.

Three road improvement projects could get some federal dollars — but it'll cost them years until completion.

The county is requesting federal money for the construction of Battlefield Parkway between Route 7 and Sycolin Road, completion of Pacific Boulevard near Route 28 and construction of an interchange at Ashburn Village Boulevard and Route 7.

The money would come from the $42 million federal dollars granted to Northern Virginia for the upcoming fiscal year.

The county is requesting $1.3 million of the total $20 million needed for Battlefield Parkway, $2.5 million of the total $25.2 million Pacific Boulevard completion and $1.5 million of the $22.5 million needed for the interchange at Ashburn Village Boulevard.

The remaining funds come from developer proffers and local and state money.

But just by involving a single federal cent, the county pushes back even mere advertisement of the desired improvements to 2010.

Supervisors at Monday's Land Use/Transportation Committee meeting did not react well to this news.

"This is ridiculous," said Supervisor Stephen Snow (R-Dulles).

"It only took six years to build the Transcontinental Railroad," said Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge). "If we tried to do it today, we couldn't."

THE COMMITTEE members decided to recommend that the county send a letter to U.S. Senators George Allen and John Warner and U.S. Representative Frank Wolf expressing its "concern and frustration" that federal money ties up road improvement timelines.

At the same meeting, the committee discussed using federal funds to build a truck pull-off lane for inspections on Route 9 in western Loudoun.

Advertising for construction bids for the relatively minor improvement would not take place until 2008 because of the red tape associated with federal funds.

VDOT engineer Jim Zeller offered one way to shave a few months off the schedule: skip the public hearing phase if newspaper advertisements didn't prompt any opposition to the project.

But if opposition crops up, then VDOT must re-advertise public hearing dates, another process that takes time.

"It's a gamble, because if we lose, we lose three to four months off the schedule," Zeller said.