By Nancy Lindsey
It may be February or March before the Virginia Department of Transportation completes work on the Lovers’ Leap Mountain segment of Rt. 58, according to David Kiser, assistant resident engineer for VDOT.
Kiser gave the Patrick County Board of Supervisors an update at the Dec. 14 meeting. VDOT has been working almost non-stop since the end of September repairing severe damage to Rt. 58 caused by heavy flooding.
Traffic was reduced to one lane for several weeks, which meant long waits for motorists as pilot vehicles escorted them over the open portion of the road. Lane closures have been primarily limited to daytime hours during recent weeks.
The road was opened to two lanes during the week of Thanksgiving. Now, local drivers say, it appears the road has been reopened for the Christmas holidays, if not longer.
Kiser told the supervisors that VDOT is expecting to still be working on Rt. 58 through January or February, and the work includes building a new retaining wall on the lowest part of the road.
When that project is completed, workers will move to repair the flood-eroded slopes on Rt. 8 north, Kiser said.
“It will probably be February or March before we move to Rt. 8, depending on what kind of winter weather we have,” Kiser said.
VDOT is also planning to install new guardrails on Rt. 8 under the HB2 funding program approved by the General Assembly.
Kiser told the board that it may be April before there is any word on the county’s application for $500,000 in revenue-sharing funds, to be matched by the same amount in county money and spent on paving dirt roads.
Blue Ridge District Supervisor Karl Weiss, board chairman, said the board was told by Lisa Price Hughes, resident engineer for VDOT, that there would be news of the application by February.
Every time VDOT representatives come to a meeting they say something different, Weiss said. “We need to get a date and share it with the people.”
After Kiser discussed the proposed work on Rt. 8, Weiss said, “would I be safe in telling people 2025?”
More areas of damage showed up after additional rain fell, Kiser said.
In another road matter, Jay Moose of Blackjack Road, Stuart, said some drivers are “just flying through there” without concern for curves, pedestrians or any other obstacles. Moose said he had been told that for any unmarked road in Virginia, the speed limit is 55 mph, when it should be much lower.
Moose said he has a rambunctious five-year-old son, an autistic 10-year-old daughter, and he himself is visually impaired.
Kiser said the road is below the threshold for reducing the speed limit, according to a traffic study done in June, but VDOT could look at additional signage for the road.
A truck almost hit a school bus there recently, Moose said.
Without a speed limit, there is nothing for law enforcement to enforce, Moose said.
“Most people know the road, know the curves, but I don’t know what my 1,200-pound horse will do” if a speeding driver runs out of the road, Moose said. “It would be a tragedy to lose the horse but even worse for someone to get hurt.”
In other matters at the Dec. 14 meeting:
•The board appointed Brenda Quesenberry as an at-large member of the Patrick County Planning Commission.
•The board appointed the following members to four-year terms on the Building Board of Appeals: Bruce Mosley of Cana; Roger Beasley of Stuart; Roger Conner of Meadows of Dan; David Lawson of Ararat; and Charles Cauley of Patrick Springs. Nelson Stanley of Patrick Springs and Larry Cowley of Patrick Springs were appointed as alternates.