As the School Board nears completion of its bid drawings for the new facility, questions about Mosby Boulevard continue to impact the project. At the monthly School Board meeting held Monday, the board continued to forge ahead, but were forced into a marathon construction session because of problems the uncertain road is causing.
Early in the process of planning for the school, town officials made it clear that the inclusion of a major collector road bisecting the school property was a precondition to the project. As a result, school planners situated the main school entrance on the new road. Subsequently VDOT funding for the project has all but evaporated. Uncertainty from the state on continued funding for the road has resulted in a significantly scaled back design, yet VDOT is still unable to secure complete funding for the project. VDOT cannot commit to the project unless 100% funding is in place.
Voicing the frustration for the group, school board member Emily Rhodes said, “We need to hear something from VDOT.”
The fluid status of the road is forcing the board to make challenging decisions based on assumptions. On a walk through of the property earlier in the year, VDOT expressed concern with the design of the temporary main entrance that is planned at Tom Whitacre Circle. To accommodate buses and trucks the intersection will need to have curbs that provide a 50′ radius. This seemingly simple change from VDOT creates several issues and cost increases. To include the requested turn radius, additional property will need to be secured from the adjacent land owner and utility poles will need to be relocated. Both of these conditions will add costs to an entrance that will be ripped up and redesigned if and when VDOT completes Mosby.
Urban Engineering representative Jon Erickson provided an alternative. If the intersection is moved east 12′ then the poles will not need to be relocated and no additional property will be needed. This design would presumably require the closure of Whitacre since VDOT would not allow two roads immediately next to each other to enter Main Street. This would also require some accommodation for access to property served by Whitacre.
Seeking clarification, Chairman Bouffault inquired, “So, the new entrance would no longer line up with Westwood?
“That is correct,” responded Erickson.
The board was unanimous in their assessment that this would cause a terrible traffic situation for anyone using that intersection when school was in session. Erickson explained that both of the current entrance scenarios represent sub-standard designs that VDOT has agreed to accept for a temporary period of 5 years. If after 5 years Mosby has not been completed, the entrance will need to be eliminated and the School will need to build a permanent entrance to VDOT specifications.
Faced with sub-standard choices, the School Board decided to leave the entrance where it is currently shown on the plans. All agreed that both options presented were unacceptable, but in order to move the process forward the plan is to use the Whitacre entrance, add the turn radius changes to the design and hope that the entrance is never built. All of the school board members expressed their discomfort with this strategy, but given the variables they are dealing with, the consensus was that it would be the best course of action.