Hearing held on Hickory Fork Road improvements

Bill Nachman - Posted on Jul 23, 2010 - 05:10 PM

The Virginia Department of Transportation held a design public hearing Tuesday night at Page Middle School, White Marsh, for proposed improvements to a portion of Hickory Fork Road.

Several persons at the meeting said they had questions about which properties might be impacted by the project, while Howard Mowry—who resides at Gloucester Point but speaks out on many public matters—questioned why VDOT is planning to spend more than $6 million on the project but not include additional travel lanes on the road, which often carries heavy traffic.

Saluda residency Administrator Marcie Parker said during the hearing that the stretch of Hickory Fork Road selected for improvements was chosen because it has a greater need for upgrading than another section farther down Hickory Fork that once topped it on the county’s secondary road improvement list. At the recommendation of VDOT, the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors voted to swap the second phase of Hickory Fork improvements with the third phase.

The first phase of Hickory Fork improvements near Haynes Mill Pond took place more than six years ago, Parker said. Then, the next Hickory Fork section was from near the pond to Belroi. However, as a higher vehicle count is logged at the section heading back up to George Washington Memorial Highway (Route 17), Parker said, VDOT and the county decided to flip-flop the two projects.

As proposed, VDOT wants to reconstruct Hickory Fork Road from 0.027 mile west of its intersection with Route 683 to 0.149 mile west of the intersection with Route 17. Total length of that project is 0.862 of a mile.

Improvements will include widening to provide additional turn lanes and improve drainage, Parker said.

Steve Waldron, a project manager for VDOT, said construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2012. Once construction begins, Parker said it is estimated to take up to 1½ years to complete the $6.2 million project.

According to an information sheet handed out at the hearing, the existing Hickory Fork consists of two 10-foot travel lanes with 6-foot shoulders and 3-foot ditches. The proposed design has two 12-foot lanes with 8-foot shoulders and 6-foot ditches.

Rick Spurlock, a VDOT official, said that VDOT will need to acquire rights-of-way or utility easements on 59 parcels. B.R. Knight, another VDOT specialist, said that one family living along the proposed route might have to be relocated.

The daily traffic count for this portion of Hickory Fork was 5,700 vehicles in 2008, the VDOT fact sheet said, with a projected traffic count of 18,000 vehicles per day in the year 2030.

The project will be "maintained with a minimum of inconvenience to the traveling public," the VDOT fact sheet said. "After the project is complete, VDOT will maintain the road."

Interested persons can send written comments on the project until July 30 to Virginia Department of Transportation, Michelle Shropshire, P.E., L&D Engineer, 87 Deacon Road, Fredericksburg, Va. 22405.