Tag Archives: VDOT

Historic bridge remains at risk

johnLewisBridgeYou may wonder what happened to that historic one-lane bridge on Featherbed Lane that VDOT seemed inclined to alter or destroy.

Well VDOT is having another meeting on February 9, 2016, at 6 p.m. at the Old School in Waterford, and the bridge is still on the chopping block.

There is an effort by the Catoctin Creek Scenic River Advisory Committee to preserve the bridge’s historic standing and maintain its listing in the National Registry of Historic Places and in Virginia Landmarks Registry.

In 2003, VDOT “hot zinced” the bridge to preserve it and instead made the bridge more brittle.

According to the Advisory Committee, VDOT now admits that may have been the wrong thing to do.

The challenge is to repair the bridge consistent with the recommendation of Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources.

Marc Holma, the Architectural Historian, for the Division of Review and Compliance, wrote on behalf of the Department, that “the Architectural Evaluation Team decided that only Alternative 2A [of VDOT’s proposals] would preserve enough of the bridge’s historic design and materials to keep it listed in the NRHP [Nation Register of Historic Places].”

johnLewisBridgePier

The Advisory Committee would prefer that this Alternative 2A not have a pier as when there are storms, trees and branches, they accumulate around the pier. The current configuration of the bridge has no pier.

The Advisory Committee said that you have to go out there after every storm clearing out the log jam when you have a pier or piling.

VDOT is distressed that trucks weigh too much and may have trouble clearing the upper trusses.

One resident asked why is a truck traveling on that road, much less the bridge.

Is this really a way to create new paved roadways to facilitate more development, rather than preserve and protect this charming back road and historic bridge?

On the northeast side of Featherbed Lane, just over the bridge, there is Waterford Downs, a development slated to have 93 homes on 3 Acre lots, with 5 built already.

For trucks to avoid the dirt road and the historic bridge, in order to get to the development, requires that the trucks go around on other roads, taking an additional 45 minutes.

These narrow dirt roads are not meant for such heavy traffic.

One member of the advisory committee suggested that, if the bridge is revised and widened, then the dirt road may be next to be widened and paved.

It remains a bitter irony that, while the bridge was named after a preservationist, John G. Lewis, its own chance of preservation is at high risk.

Mr. Lewis had been the local regional representative for the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission, now known as the Department of Historic Resources.

John spearheaded the Scenic River designation for Catoctin Creek that flows beneath the bridge.

This tension may be resolved, either to preserve or destroy the bridge and its historic nature, at the meeting scheduled for February 9th in Waterford.

We should not squander another historic treasure. We have to make this work and save the bridge.

Taking its toll

i66trafficWe have high occupancy lanes on the highway, I-66, that reward those drivers inside the beltway who plan ahead and take one or more extra riders and car pool; this sensible traffic policy cuts down on highway congestion, moves cars along otherwise frozen in space and time, and contains pollution.

What’s interesting, as a matter of social engineering, is that there remain so relatively few car poolers and yet the high occupancy lanes still move faster than the congested traffic lanes.

Some might rightly think that, if requiring two riders for a high occupancy lane eases traffic flow, then why not increase the requirement to three riders? But, the plans for this innovation won’t occur until at least 2020.

Instead, we have a short-sighted controversial proposal on the table, scheduled for 2017, allowing well-heeled solo drivers to buy a faster ride, to use one high occupancy lane during peak periods of traffic — if they pay for the privilege.

The policy is a shame and a disgrace.

It’s one thing to modify personal behavior with a salutary public policy such as carpooling; it’s quite another, however, to “license” the violation of that sound policy for a fee. Continue reading

Fools destroy trees

What’s left after cutting down a 95 year old tree

What’s left after cutting down a 95 year old tree

While Joyce Kilmer said, “only God can make a tree,” he did not consider those fools who destroy these trees with glee.

In my home town of Lovettsville, Tree City USA, VDOT destroyed a 95 year old Maple tree, with leaves no lower than 10 feet above the ground.

The reason, they said, was to make a bike path 8 feet wide, when the distance from the base of the tree to the roadway where the path would be placed was 16 feet, twice the width of the path.

They destroyed a majestic Maple for no good reason – as VDOT does characteristically treat trees as “inconvenient” – for VDOT is of the school of dig and destroy.

Susan Clark said, “It was a perfectly good tree and they cut it at ground level.”

Briana N. Edelman said, “Why does everyone feel the need to cut down trees? Trees provide shade, cooling, prevent erosion, hold sentimental and historical value, clean the air, house birds, insects, animals….among so many other things.”

Trees also produce the oxygen we breathe. Some think that’s important.

When trees abut a stream or river, their root system holds the bank together, reducing erosion, and curtails the runoff of the killing chemicals, pesticides and herbicides, acting as a natural system of filters restraining pollutants.

Our problem is not, however, a single tree that once grew in Lovettsville.

We have an epidemic of foolishness beyond VDOT’s serial violations, among developers, and prominent individuals who prefer a “scenic view” over what is environmentally conscientious. Continue reading

NVTA’s bad and ugly: bicycles and pedestrians

The NVTA's "good"

Have you ever driven around Loudoun County and observed:

  1. Shopping centers designed exclusively for automobile access even though they’re  walking distance from residential developments?
  2. Pedestrians venturing to cross dangerous very wide divided highways to get from a residential area to a shopping center?
  3. Jogging and bicycle paths to nowhere; paths that border a residential development and then abruptly stop?
  4. Major routes where bicycles and pedestrians are simply prohibited?

If you ever wondered who thought this is not only acceptable, but a “good idea,” look no further than the NVTA. Continue reading

EZPass service charges? Oh hell, no.

In my inbox this afternoon, I found a note about the proposed $1/month service fee that VDOT is considering charging for the privilege of using EZPass (full text below the fold).

I resent being charged extra for a “convenience” when the “convenience” actually allows VDOT (or banks in the case of ATMs) to hire fewer workers, thereby saving VDOT money. Money that amounts to millions a year.

I further resent being charged extra when the Greenway, already exhorbitant, and privately owned, doesn’t have any toll collectors at all, and takes no cash. Because I have a height deficiency, I have to actually get out of my car to use the credit card machines on the Greenway, which feels unsafe. I generally try to avoid the Greenway on principle, but when I use it, I have no choice but to use EZPass. To be charged extra to use something that enables a FOR PROFIT company to avoid hiring workers really frosts my cookies.

I will be discussing this at home and, if the charge is implemented, will probably be turning in my EZPass in protest.

Go to the VDOT webpage and register your disgust with proposed charge. I did.

Continue reading