Last week,

as was reported in the Daily Progress

, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors approved their priorities for the

Six Year Secondary Road Plan

. One of their goals was to keep the

County’s portion of the Meadowcreek Parkway

on schedule. The Daily Progress noted the effort that went into moving past and future secondary road funds, allocated by VDOT to Albemarle, to the Meadowcreek Parkway account. Most major road projects on the “six year plan” require decades for enough funding to be collected before construction can begin.



I put together the

graph here

to show the declining allocations from VDOT for secondary roads (red area) and the rising costs of the Meadowcreek Parkway project (blue bars). As funds are shifted to keep up with the rising costs, other roads fall further behind schedule. The Daily Progress noted:

“Other projects, however, will suffer. Improvements to Proffit Road, Old Ivy Road and Northern Free State Road will have to wait as funding for those projects was reduced to pay for the escalation in price of the Meadowcreek Parkway, with an estimated cost of around $67 million. The county has fully funded its estimated $25 million portion. Work on Jarmans Gap Road and Georgetown Road – projects that could have been delayed for the parkway – remain fully funded.” [See also:

past post on

Meadowcreek Parkway Funding Challenge


]

While

there are about 70 projects on Albemarle’s Six-Year Secondary Road Plan

, only

three

are moving forward: Meadowcreek Parkway, Jarman’s Gap, and Georgetown Road. Albemarle is expecting a total of

$3,863,524 from VDOT

in FY2008 for all secondary road projects.

The costs to build roads are rising dramatically. At the meeting last week, Supervisor Dennis Rooker shared with his colleagues a recent e-mail from Butch Davies, the area’s representative on the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB). On February 13, 2007, Mr. Davies wrote:

“Attached is an email which was forwarded by the Secretary of Transportation and highlights the predicament that we face in Virginia on our road projects. The cost of construction has accelerated dramatically. Since 1987, we have seen an 82.8% increase in total construction costs; 28% of this increase has occurred from the end of 2004 to the present.”

“I wanted to bring this to your attention because it has had a dramatic impact on projects within the Culpeper District.”

“When I originally was appointed to the Commonwealth Transportation Board a little over four years ago there was sufficient funding to complete…the Meadowcreek Parkway utilizing both secondary road funding and urban road funding in Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville. What has happened is that the delay in construction has seen an accelerated increase in cost. One of the dramatic increases which is not addressed in this memorandum is the increase in right of way cost…”

“The Legislature is presently considering transportation legislation. A review of the existing package does not appear to have a significant impact on projects pending in the Culpeper District. A dedicated source of revenue that provides significant cash flow over a period of years is necessary in order to address the long term issues.”

Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation, Pierce Homer, was sharing price trend data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). Interestingly, the day after Mr. Davies sent his message to Dennis Rooker, the FHA updated those figures with data through 2006 Q2. The ”

Price Trends for Federal-Aid Highway Construction

” now show a

140.6% increase in construction costs

since 1987 with

86.2% of that increase occurring since the end of 2004

(i.e. during the last 18 months of report).

Brian Wheeler

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