The Stuart Town council discussed the future of the T.J. George Memorial Bridge, which goes over the Mayo River on Route 8, at its Wednesday, Aug. 17, meeting.
Town Manager Bryce Simmons said he recently attended a joint meeting with West Piedmont Planning District Commission (WPPDC) and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) resident engineer Lisa Price-Hughes on July 27.
“This bridge is listed on the VDOT State of Good Repair Program, which is sort of restrictive in the way that those funds can be spent. Basically, they can put the bridge back the way it is,” he said.
Simmons said he also has talked with a member of Rep. Morgan Griffith’s, R-Salem, staff, who indicated Community Project Funding could potentially be requested for the project through congressional earmarks. He said that, with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Alexandria, and Griffith coming into town next week, town officials could make the representatives aware of the effort and the need for funding.
Simmons said he would love to see the bridge have a walled-off sidewalk that would serve as a physical barrier between traffic and pedestrians, “with it being a gateway into our historic district, I would love to see aesthetic aspects to it that would really add some character to the bridge itself,” he said.
Mayor Ray Weiland asked if it would be possible to have sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. “That would take a structural engineer to decide that, but I don’t know,” Simmons said.
Simmons said there is currently funding to put the bridge back with its current design, but he would like to add to it. “I think there could be available funding to do that, and it most likely wouldn’t cost the town anything,” he said.
Simmons said VDOT may be looking to put the project out to bid as early as 2024.
Vice-mayor Rebecca Adcock, who is also the executive director of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce, said Price-Hughes also requested that VDOT look at the nearby bank to see if it could be shaved to provide better line of sight.
In other matters, the council:
*Rescheduled the public hearing for the rezoning of the Foresight Hospital and Health Systems hospital to the Wednesday, Sept. 21 meeting. Simmons said the council needed to notify the adjacent property owners about the potential rezoning before holding the vote.
“I think that it would make more sense to have it next month especially with the hospital owners having an open house next week. I think it could be beneficial for the public to hear what they have to say before we have that official public hearing,” he said.
*Approved giving $2,500 to the Patrick County Music Association (PCMA) for its 20th anniversary celebration, which will be held from Oct. to Dec.
*Approved the purchase of a new raw water pump for $52,000.
*Approved giving Simmons the authority to buy a new mower not to exceed $15,000.
*Approved the meeting minutes as amended.
*Heard an update on the wastewater treatment plant.
*Heard an update on public work projects.
*Paid the bills.