Long Road to Nowhere: Albemarle County Residents Wait for Pavement

February 17, 2014

A group of Albemarle County residents are continuing their push to get their roads paved.

Right now, Bunker Hill Road and Bunker Hill Lane in Keswick are dirt and gravel. Those who live there say the roads need some major patching up.

"They'll throw gravel here and there, come scrape it and that's it," said Edward Johnson. "It just washes out. It's absolutely a disaster."

Edward Johnson grew up on Bunker Hill Road. He remembers trying to mend the road with his dad decades ago.

"He'd tell me to get into the truck and he'd throw a wheelbarrow in the back and we'd get a shovel and we'd actually walk out here and we'd drive out the road and take gravel out of the ditch and fill in potholes," said Johnson.

Today, he does the same thing with his own son.

"We've gotten in that truck and gone up the road and filled in potholes and I'm going, whoa this is like déjà vu," he said.

In February 2004, Johnson led what neighbors have called a "crusade" to get the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on board with the paving project. Johnson says he was asked to collect signatures from all residents in the area agreeing they'd like to see it paved.

"I took it to the board and they said that's what they needed and that's where we're at with this. That's all that's really happened. I got the signatures. I did my part, and now I'm waiting for their part," said Johnson.

Andrew and Eva King moved into a home on Bunker Hill Lane about seven years ago. They quickly learned, rain or snow, the unpaved road can be problematic.

"You have to go very slowly," said Andrew King. "Two miles per hour might be a little fast in some sections or you knock out a filling because of the potholes."

"You're always dealing with one of those -- either the dust or the potholes, or flooding and ruts -- so there's always something. It would be really nice if it would be taken care of at some point," said Eva King.

In November 2013, several residents returned to the board of supervisors to express their continued concerns.

Bunker Hill residents say, while they were once number two on a list of priority rural rustic road projects, they were re-categorized as a secondary road project and bumped down the 14th place.

At the November 13 meeting, former supervisor Dennis Rooker said the county had about $600,000 for secondary road projects for the year.

"A full paving of a road a mile long would probably exceed a million dollars," said Rooker. "So if you have to full paving done on a road, and it's a mile long, you're talking about using up two years of all the secondary road funds allocated to the area, paved and unpaved."

"When projects move back and forth from different priority lists, that's one of the inefficiencies of having two lists for similar types of projects because there's two criteria for them," said David Benish, Chief of Planning for Albemarle County.

Benish said at the meeting the county establishes its secondary road funding priorities for the next fiscal year in the spring with input from the board.

Bunker Hill residents are hoping they will be on the board's minds when the time comes.

"I understand that things are tight, but we've waited for quite some time and we're tired of being put to the side and being on the back burner," said Johnson.

"I guess they try to do what they can with what they have, but if it's not paved, this will always happen," said Eva King.

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