Project updates from officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) were among the items presented at the Patrick County Board of Supervisors meeting on Aug. 29.
VDOT resident engineer Lisa Price-Hughes, said there will be more activity regarding the U.S. 58 Lovers Leap project in the summer.
“On about 80 percent of the project, there’s going to be a lot of clearing, a lot of tree felling, and some more excavation,” she said.
Price-Hughes said there will be flagging operations daily along the route from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Blasting operations will continue two to three times a week, primarily around lunchtime.
“That’s going to remain the same, just you’re going to see more activity,” she said.
Next spring, she said commuters can expect to see more heavy excavation in all areas of the project. Price-Hughes said VDOT is still aiming for a spring 2026 completion date for the 7.4-mile widening project.
“In regard to Vesta, that’s a four-mile section that comes next. That project is funded, and we’re doing a lot of surveying on it now, and we’re trying to update the plans that were developed in the early 2000s,” she said.
While the project will essentially follow the same alignment, Price-Hughes noted there will be some changes due to changes in road standards like slope standards.
Price-Hughes said VDOT will focus on the area around Cockrams Mill and the Dan River Bridge will be the priority area. VDOT plans to start construction in 2025.
“We also have Ashby Drive (in Stuart), that was a Smart Scale project you all submitted, for a left turn lane into Ashby Drive and a sight-distance improvement distance along Route 8. That is scheduled for 2024,” she said.
Price-Hughes the plans for the intersection at 103 near Lee’s Kar-Go is still under design. The plans for the T.J. George Memorial Bridge also are still in the design phase with a replacement date of 2024-2025.
In other matters, the board:
*Heard an update on tourism from Tourism/Recreation Coordinator James Houchins. He said tourism has a strong economic impact on Virginia and Patrick County, with a “$6.1 billion in direct income from tourism supporting job holders in the state, and then $1.4 billion in state and local taxes, and that’s for all of Virginia.”
Houchins said from 2016 to 2018, there was between $19.7 million and $22.2 million in spending in Patrick County.
“But in 2019, of course I believe everyone understands why we had a significant drop in and that was due to COVID. The numbers dropped off even more in 2020,” he said, adding the department is still waiting for Virginia Tourism Corporation (VATC) to release the data for 2021 and some information for 2022.
In Patrick County the visitor spending is $17.3 million, with 4.6 percent of that being the share of all county jobs sustained by tourism. “Visitors generated about $1.2 million in state and local taxes,” he said.
Houchins said he also applied for a T-Mobile grant to buy handicap equipment for DeHart Park. He expects to get the results about the grant in a week.
“What we’re looking at doing is to enhance the park and make it an inclusion park. That means the handicap citizens here will be able to come in and be part of that playground,” he said.
*Denied a contribution increase from the Patrick County School Board where the county would serve as a go between for funds given to the Blue Ridge Regional Library Stuart site.
Clayton Kendrick, of the Mayo River District, said the amount was $13,142 instead of $10,000. “I don’t much like the thing that we’re going to be hooked with it from now on,” he said.
Clyde DeLoach, chairman, and of the Blue Ridge District, said he felt the same. “This is a nice gesture, but we will possibly be stuck with it from this point going” forward.
“If we could guarantee that the schools would be on the hook for it and agree to it all the years, I’d be for it, but otherwise” I’m not, Denise Stirewalt, of the Peter’s Creek District, said.
*Heard an update on county maintenance projects from Maintenance Supervisors Ronald Chaney. DeLoach said the board plans to have two department heads give updates at every meeting.
*Approved the bills, claims, and appropriations.
*Accepted McKinney Heating & Air Conditioning’s bid to replace and install heating, ventilation, and air condition (HVAC) units in the Patrick County Administration Building.
*Approved the Grant Administration Policy, which requires each department obtaining a grant to care for and be familiar with all grand documents and requirements. If the grant is federal, the department should immediately notify Finance Director Lori Jones for inclusion in the county’s single audit.
*Approved the Operational Medical Director agreement.
*Discussed the need for communication devices for maintenance department employees when in the field.
*Signed a letter of support for Foresight Hospital and Health System for its Certificate of Public Need (COPN) application. The COPN is to create a 10-bed unit for psychiatric and substance abuse patients.
*Scheduled a public hearing on a proposed solar ordinance on Monday, Sept. 26.
*Discussed the summer hours policy. The board plans to have it on the agenda again before summer of next year.
*Heard the County Administrator’s report.
*Heard the Supervisor’s Committee reports.
*Approved and amended Solid Waste Committee term limits for 4-year terms.