The blinking light at Main Street in Boyce will remain a landmark for the foreseeable future. The Clarke County Board of Supervisors continued discussions towards installing a full fledged traffic signal at the intersection of Route 340 and Route 723 in Boyce at their last meeting. However, since there are currently no funds for the signal, the only options available to the county are long shot funding scenarios.
The effort to add signaling to the intersection for safety and convenience has been talked about since 1994, however firm funding for the effort remains elusive. The VDOT six year plan for secondary roads that was recently approved by the Board did not include any funds for the light. Board of Supervisors Chair Michael Hobert stated, “Typically lights are paid for out of ‘safety money.’ It is not a secondary six year plan item; it is a primary 6 year plan item and the justification here is much more competitive.”
The ongoing effort has been spearheaded by White Post Voting District representative A.R. “Pete” Dunning but the complete lack of funding for this initiative has pushed it into a realm of mismatched opportunities. VDOT representative Edwin Carter outlined two possible scenarios for funding at the June meeting. These were “Revenue Sharing” and “Safe Routes to School” programs.
Under Revenue Sharing , the sponsoring entity, Clarke County, would match 50% of the estimated cost and the state would provide the other 50%. The current estimate for the signal is $300K. The current revenue sharing program by the state favors projects that are of a much larger scale. That fact coupled with the highly competitive environment that the economy has created put this option as less than a sure thing.
The second option is the “Safe Routes to School” program. This federal grant program can contribute funds up to $500K dollars to localities for the express purpose of promoting pedestrian/bicycle traffic to elementary and middle schools. Mr Carter from VDOT pointed out that these grants typically go to urban schools where larger numbers of students can be encouraged to walk or bike to school. “The plan is evaluated by a group in Richmond and they are looking for the biggest bang for their buck.”
While Boyce does not seem like a typical fit for the “Safe Routes to School” grant Supervisor Dunning thought that it was worth applying based on the traffic use at the intersection. “If we were to put a plan together to show in detail how many busses go through that intersection at what times and so forth and how many cars brought children from the country into that intersection, I would think that would carry some weight.”
While the issues mentioned by Mr Dunning did not address the main issues of the grant, VDOT representative Ed Carter said that the factors he mentioned are considered and added, “I encourage you to at least investigate and pursue it. Sometimes probably not in today’s economic times, but not all of these monies are applied for.”
The Board plans to follow up with Boyce on strategy for funding the project.