VDOT reports progress on gravel roads in Scott County

Holly Viers • Feb 18, 2018 at 10:00 AM

GATE CITY — Gravel road conditions in Scott County have been a concern for residents for many months.

At last week’s meeting of the Scott County Board of Supervisors (BOS), though, there was a bit of good news: The Virginia Department of Transportation is making progress on treating these gravel roads, and more money is being invested in them.

“I know we’re not perfect and don’t get everything done the perfect way,” said Allan Sumpter of VDOT, “but I have given (our area headquarters) instructions to make every effort to provide as much maintenance on the gravel roads as they possibly can.”

What’s the background?

The gravel roads issue came to the forefront at the October 2017 BOS meeting, during which several county residents spoke about the poor condition of the roads.

As previously reported by the Times News, one resident said some of the roads had become dangerous to travel, while another said the dust was becoming a health hazard for those who live near the roads.

In response to these concerns, VDOT representatives Sumpter and Jackie Christian paid a visit to the BOS in November. At that meeting, Sumpter pointed out that “ideal weather” is a big factor when it comes to keeping these roads in good condition.

He added that because of a formula established by Virginia’s legislature, VDOT is not authorized to move funds from primary road maintenance to secondary road maintenance. This means that funding to treat gravel roads is limited.

BOS members then sent a letter to the Virginia legislature, asking them to allow Scott County to reallocate funds from primary road maintenance to secondary road maintenance as needed.

What happened this month?

Sumpter said he met last month with the General Assembly in Richmond and was told legislators would soon be drafting a response to the county’s letter.

In the meantime, work is continuing on the gravel roads. In the last two weeks, Sumpter said VDOT has put down 4,200 tons of maintenance stone on these roadways at a cost of about $52,000.

Sumpter said he plans to supplement that with county operational improvement safety funds.

“It’s a small amount of money, about $68,000 a year, that comes to me as the residence administrator (to use) at my discretion. … Because we have such a need for the gravel roads … I’m using the majority of that money out of that $68,000 for the purchase of stone for us to go on these gravel roads,” Sumpter said.

BOS member Danny Mann and Chairman David Redwine appreciated the effort, with Redwine adding, “Among the VDOT issues, that’s probably our primary concern.”

The next BOS meeting will be held March 7.