Residents Of McDowell Complain About Slow Pace Of Construction On Rt 250 Bridge Project
Monterey, VA – Highland County residents have been giving the Board of Supervisors many comments about the bridge replacement construction project on Route 250 in McDowell. Supervisor Robin Sullenberger has been seeing the pace of construction first-hand as he travels to and from Staunton several times each week. In response to several questions to the Virginia Department of transportation over the summer, Wayne Nolde, Staunton District Southern Area Construction Engineer was present at Tuesday evening’s meeting to explain the situation to the Supervisors.
Travelers on Route 250 and McDowell residents have expressed concern regarding both the 18 month completion time on the project and the appearance of little work taking place at the site. Mr. Nolde offers some explanations regarding these concerns.
“I’m the guy you can blame on the contract completion date,” he says, “and a lot of factors played into the date we set; the largest of which was the time of year restriction that does not allow the contractor to do any work in the stream that’s not already inside of cofferdams between October 1 and May 15th. That’s a federal regulation that we have no way to do anything about.”
Mr. Nolde makes the point that the county’s own request regarding Maple Festival is also partly responsible for this project’s long completion time.
“Another factor that can play into that completion date is the request by the Board to keep the bridge open to two-way traffic for the Maple Festival,” says Nolde. “So to give you an update on the current process, they’re slightly behind schehdule; we are monitoring that very carefully because we’re very much aware they need to have that first phase complete by December in order to have favorable weather to do what’s needed to have that two-way traffic for the Maple Festival.”
Work on the bridge has had to be paced to comply with federal regulations and the contingency that the bridge be open to two-way traffic for Maple Festival.
“Once they complete that first phase in December, you’re basically not going to see anything else happen until after the Maple Festival,” he says. “They can’t tear out the second phase since we’ve committed to keeping two way traffic on the road.”
Once the Maple Festival is over, the contractor will be able to continue work if the water is not too high. The federal time of year restriction and the county’s request to have two-way traffic on the road during the Maple Festival have probably added about 6 months to this bridge project’s scheduled completion time. The good news is that it is very likely the bridge will be finished ahead of schedule, if the weather cooperates.
In other business, the Board needs to make an appointment to fill a vacancy on the Planning Commission. County Administrator Roberta Lambert explains.
“The Planning Commission has a vacancy effective September 30th, Jim Cobb has tendered his resignation due to his relocation,” says Lambert. “He was serving a term that will expire on December 31 of 2012. There will need to be someone appointed to fill that unexpired term.”
Supervisor Blanchard requested additional time to review the options regarding this appointment, so the Supervisors agreed to defer consideration of this matter to their November meeting.