The Clarke County Board of Supervisors blasted the Virginia Department of Transportation’s proposed 2035 Rural Long Range Transportation Plan on Tuesday labeling many the agency’s plans for Clarke County, “short sighted and financially unrealistic.”
VDOT’s long range transportation plan is meant to provide local officials with a chance to collaborate with transportation officials to align road projects with local needs. In theory, VDOT officials drafted the 2035 road plans based on the comprehensive plans for each jurisdiction in the area. VDOT then extrapolated the number of vehicle trips through the area in hopes of developing a comprehensive plan for addressing traffic pressures along Route 7, Route 50 and Route 340.
However, Clarke County’s Supervisors and VDOT seem to be interpreting the county’s planning documents very differently.
“The Board does not believe that the Comprehensive Plan of Clarke County, which goes to great effort to limit rural residential development and focus development where access is already available, justifies the major projects recommended,” Clarke County Administrator David Ash said in a letter directed to Christopher Price, Executive Director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission in Front Royal.
In the letter Ash told Price the Clarke County Supervisors are particularly opposed to several proposed VDOT initiatives including the widening of Route 7 to six lanes, the widening of Route 340 to four and six lanes, the widening of Route 723 to three lanes in Boyce and the widening of rural road lanes on five secondary routes to 12 feet and on three routes to 11 feet.
Ash said that the Supervisors were particularly puzzled by VDOT’s Route 7 because the 20-year transportation plans in Frederick and Loudoun Counties do not show additional lanes on Route 7, making the proposal illogical. The Supervisors also expressed reservations about widening Route 340 citing the project’s disruption to the communities of Berryville and Boyce as “devastating” and failing cost/benefit analysis.
In terms of road improvements in Boyce, the Supervisors said that a three-laned Route 723 would encourage higher speeds where traffic calming is the goal and devastate the physical and qualitative character of a quintessential small town.
While many aspects of VDOT’s proposal were dead-on-arrival, the Supervisors did find areas of agreement for improving county roads. The Supervisors support intersection improvements for Rts 7 & 657, Rts 340 & 612, Rts 340 & 50, and Rts 340 & 522, In addition, the Board said it strongly supports improvements to West Main Street (Rt 7 Bus), Westwood Road (Rt 636), and Mosby Blvd, adjacent to the new Clarke County High School on the west side of Berryville. In the Town of Berryville, the Board supports the North Church Street (Rt 616) improvements if they connect to Fairfax Street (Rt 1016) instead of Bundy Street.
The Board also supports an additional project for the extension of Jack Enders Blvd (Rt 613), for .25 miles from the Norfolk Southern Railroad to Rt 340. This connection will complete one of a network of streets designed to relieve congestion of the Main Street (Rt 7 Bus) and Buckmarsh Street (Rt 340) intersection.
Ash’s letter said that “In short, the wholesale reconstruction of Routes 7, 340, and 723 for additional lanes is simplistic, short sighted, and financially unrealistic. Further, most of the Secondary Road improvements are only necessary, in our view, to meet a general standard and do not reflect local conditions.”
Please see the attached document to review the Clarke County Board of Supervisor’s comments on each of VDOT’s specific proposals.