Is VDOT Flooding Mathews County?

yuck

by James A. Bacon

The Virginia Department of Transportation’s road maintenance program in Mathews County, you could say, has driven into a ditch. Over the years, VDOT has failed to properly maintain roadside ditches in the county, with the consequence that many now fail in their function of draining water into the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, contends Carol J. Bova, community activist and author of “Drowning a County,” published this year.

The repercussions of inadequate drainage are surprisingly far-reaching, according to Bova. When roads block natural drainage into rivers and streams, water builds up in land that once was dry, inundating and harming forests and septic systems. Ill-maintained ditches create standing water that breeds mosquitoes and allows the build-up of sometimes-toxic cyanobacteria. Stagnant ditch water also accumulates muck and invites invasive species. Receiving waters lose a source of oxygen-rich rainwater, and marshes lose a source of sediment that allow them to survive sea-level rise. Most counter-productively of all, inundation of soil around the roads accelerates the deterioration of VDOT-maintained roadbeds. The cost of poor maintenance is silent but extensive.

Carol Bova

Carol Bova

Bova and fellow activist G.C. Morrow have led a campaign to clean up the ditches of Mathews County but have encountered stiff bureaucratic resistance from VDOT, they say. The transportation agency contends that the problem isn’t the quality of roadside ditches. Mathews County is too flat to drain, and inundation is increasing because of sea level rise.

Bova wrote the book to dispute those and other VDOT “myths” regarding drainage. In the process, she has exposed various institutional failings, such as the inaccuracy of map data in Virginia’s Geographic Information Systems and the failure of VDOT to maintain accurate records regarding the location of drainage easements. “Drowning a County” is a marvelous example of what one or two determined citizens can accomplish.

G.C. Morrow (right) with Del.  Keith Hodges, R-Urbanna.

G.C. Morrow (right) with Del. Keith Hodges, R-Urbanna.

In this post dedicated to Bova’s book, I am telling only one side of the story — I did not contact VDOT for a response. However, it seems undeniable that she has highlighted a major problem not only for the gently sloping Mathews County but for counties across Virginia’s flat Tidewater region, and even in its piedmont and mountain country. Says Bova: “VDOT’s refusal to accept responsibility for drainage” extends across the state.

Having lived in many places around the country, Bova moved to Mathews County in 2004 after her husband died. Mathews, she said, “is the most idyllic spot to live,” and it helped her heal from her grief. As she got more involved in the community, she noticed a variety of problems — failing septic systems, dying timber crops, a flooding high school ball field — that could be traced to the breakdown of the drainage system.

Before VDOT took over state roads nearly a century ago, Mathews County had a network of dirt roads and grass-lined ditches to accommodate the natural hydrology in which rain water either seeped into local aquifers or drained into creeks, streams, marshes and other “receiving waters.” The disruption of that system is evident to anyone who actually lives there. Bova connected with Morrow, a long-time Mathews resident, whose family has lived there for 300 years. Morrow knew the county’s history, geography and people. “He’s walked every foot of ditch in Mathews County,” she says. She complemented his in-depth local knowledge with documentary and online research.

Some counties can plausibly blame excess development for flooding and inundation; building roads, parking lots and other impermeable surface creates runoff and aggravates local flooding. That’s not the case in Mathews, where in 2010 the U.S. Census recorded fewer than 9,000 inhabitants — 46 more than in 1910. U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show only 55 farms with 4,600 acres of land, compared to 1,387 farms in 1910 with 43,000 acre of land. Most of that farmland has reverted to forest.

Mathews may be one of the flattest counties in Virginia but that doesn’t mean its waters don’t drain. At one time, there were dry areas where people built houses, cleared farms and raised timber. Now that places are inundated. VDOT’s response is that Mathews is sinking into the sea, either through rising sea levels or subsidence of the tectonic plate. Bova disputes that claim with technical arguments, the merits of which few readers are informed enough to judge. However, there is no question that she has done her research. She has delved into the history of Virginia’s hydrology maps and documented the institutional inertia that perpetuates flaws and errors including the failure to take into account dramatic shoreline changes caused by storms and hurricanes or to reflect new scientific knowledge. Because Mathews lies at the impact point of the giant meteor that created the Chesapeake Bay, for instance, its geology, sub-soils, aquifers and drainage patterns are different than those of neighboring counties. But that insight, which dates to the 1980s, has yet to inform official water supply plans.

VDOT seems unwilling to consider the possibility, according to Bova, that its ditches may be to blame for the inundation and flooding. Yet the uneven condition of the ditches, culverts and other drainage infrastructure is beyond dispute. Bova and fellow citizens have thoroughly documented the blocked culverts and fetid waters along county roads in photographs that can be viewed on Facebook and in Shutterfly.

The fact is, says Bova, VDOT has failed to invest in proper drainage maintenance. The problem runs deeper than an unwillingness to allocate funds.

According to VDOT staff in Saluda, many old road plans have been lost or damaged, and some plans have been discarded for lack of storage space. … VDOT, as an institution, has lost track of what deeds it holds and even the location of some of the property given to the Commonwealth of Virginia for drainage by those deeds. …

VDOT’s near-total lack of knowledge of their deeded outfall drainage easements and a complete denial of responsibility for their maintenance has contributed to flooded roadside ditches, woods and property.

In theory, the remedy is simple, according to Bova. VDOT must restore the natural drainage patterns in Mathew County by opening its pipes and cleaning its ditch channels. Whether VDOT has the institutional wherewithal and political will to do so is another matter entirely.

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64 responses to “Is VDOT Flooding Mathews County?

  1. interesting post and I’d contribute this VDOT manual:

    Board of Supervisors Manual

    http://www.virginiadot.org/business/resources/local_assistance/bos_manual-2011update.pdf

    where I was reading the other day – this:

    Drainage and drainage easements

    ” Generally there are TWO TYPEs of EASEMENTS . The first is recorded in the name of the Department and is usually obtained by Department personnel to resolve individual drainage problems, or as a part of highway improvement projects. The second is dedicated to the County for public use, as a part of subdivisions developed under County ordinances.

    The Department’s (VDOT) responsibility regarding the two different types of easements is as follows:

    Drainage Easements Acquired by the Department
    The Department assumes full maintenance responsibility within the limits of the drainage easement.

    Drainage Easements Dedicated to a County as Part of a Subdivision Plat
    The Department will maintain only that portion of the drainage easement, which falls within the right-of-way limits accepted by the Department when the street is added to the State-maintained system of highways.

    The Department will not maintain easements dedicated to a County as part of a subdivision plat. Work within the easement, but outside of the right-of-way will only be performed when obstructions, etc., create problems within the right-of-way.

    • Thanks for the link. The research and investigations that led to Drowning a County included information from numerous VDOT manuals and reports, including this one, and their Drainage Manual.

      All of VDOT’s roadside ditches are part of the Commonwealth’s highway system and in the VDOT right-of-way. You missed quoting a key statement in the same Drainage section of the BoS manual:

      Adequate drainage conveyances and facilities are integral components of a safe and structurally sound roadway infrastructure. Inadequate or improperly maintained drainage facilities are responsible for most pavement failures and soil erosion. A road may have its serviceability seriously curtailed, or may even be made impassable as a result of improper drainage maintenance, or inadequate facilities. One of the most important duties of maintenance personnel is the repair and maintenance of the highway drainage system and the importance of this activity cannot be over-emphasized.

  2. the thing about road ditches is that if they are not maintained – the road itself will flood.. – and stay flooded until the obstructions are removed.

    but all water flows downhill – eventually – so if flooding is permanent – it’s because of one of two reasons:

    1. a permanent dam including things like beaver dams as well as manmade.

    and

    2. whatever the ditch is draining into – is the same level which means the level of the water in the ditch will be equal to the level of the water in the receiving stream and there ain’t no way to fix that if the receiving stream connects to seal level water. Even VDOT has to do something at that point – they have to elevate the road bed and build a higher bridge.

    If sea level is really rising and land subsistence is really occurring – these ditches in Mathews are going to be the least of the problems as many bridge approaches are going to be going under at higher tides and tunnels like Hampton Roads are going to see the type of flooding that tunnels in New Jersey and New York saw when Sandy hit. Some of those tunnels experienced billions of dollars in damage and cannot be easily rehabilitated without building dikes around the entrances with gates for the cars – like can be seen in Richmond in Shockoe Slip with those 15 foot flood walls with gates that can be closed.

    so the key to Mathews is – if the water at the road at a different level that the ultimate receiving waters? If it is – then it might be a VDOT issue – if the obstructions are within their rights-of-ways.

    I’d be interested in hearing more – it’s not exactly like VDOT is always right… but at the same time sometimes folks do not understand the policies.

    • I’d like to point out that if you look at the USGS topo of Matthews County, you’ll see that there are over a hundred drainage ditches that were built to drain the land for farming. With the reforestation due to the demise of farms, these ditches have been filled with vegetation and do not drain the land as it once did. The bad ditches along the roadsides is not the main culprit in my opinion. This land was probably swamp in the 1700’s and ditches were built to make the land farmable. It’s just reverting back to the way nature intended it. It’s pointless to blame VDOT.

      • that’s very probably a valid point… and the rules today with respect to wetlands is that the Army Corp will not let you drain wetlands to convert the to farmland with grandfathering unless more work requiring Army Corps permits is contemplated.

        and this also may explain the ditch problem with VDOT in that if the road was built some time ago – when the adjacent lands were drained and now those lands are reverting back to wetland that some VDOT roads would be affected and in some cases VDOT may have to make a choice about what to do to preserve the road – i.e. go to where the obstruction is and free it to lower the water around the road or ask the owner of the land to do it.

        Some lands like that – even though – “owned” are marginal in Value and taxed accordingly and so the owner really not inclined to spend money towards maintaining drainage.. that does not benefit him ….in any way.

        VDOT does have what is known as drainage easements. – and in fact – there is a manual known as the VDOT Drainage Manual :
        http://www.virginiadot.org/business/locdes/hydra-drainage-manual.asp

        there’s also a brochure that summarizes VDOT drainage policy and responsibilities.

        just search for “Drainage on Virginia Roadways” (I’d put the link in but it takes the comment to moderation and stays there until Jim notices it).

      • VDOT roadside ditches were not built to drain the land. They were designed to take rainfall away from the roads. VDOT used culverts to allow streams to cross under roads. When the ditches and culverts are inadequate or unmaintained, the water backs up into what used to be dryer uplands. Hold back enough for long enough, and it stays flooded, not because of sea level rise, but because the water can’t flow. Stream conditions have been degraded over the decades by VDOT practices or lack thereof. Normal stream flow causes a scouring effect that keeps a stream open and running. Speed it up too much, and you cause sedimentation downstream. (Think Accotink, not Mathews.) Block or slow it down too much, and you allow invasive vegetation growth that further blocks flow and can create swampy conditions. Impound water until the oxygen is gone, and natural bacterial decomposition of dead plant matter causes a buildup of muck making the problem even worse. And that brings us back to depriving the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries of the oxygenated rainfall necessary for the health of the ecosystem.

        If kitchen pipes were blocked, and water backed up onto the kitchen floor, no one would say the kitchen is reverting to an earlier state, or it’s because of sea level rise. The flooding would be recognized, and the blockage addressed. That’s all we’re asking for VDOT to do with its roadside ditches and culverts in Mathews County, to acknowledge and address its drainage failures.

        • Correction: Impound water until the oxygen is gone, and natural bacterial decomposition of dead plant matter STOPS and causes a buildup of muck making the problem even worse. And that brings us back to depriving the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries of the oxygenated rainfall necessary for the health of the ecosystem.

          • what is killing the Bay – is nitrogen and phosphorous which, in turn, cause algae blooms which eat up the oxygen for bottom critters like oysters that can’t move fast enough to the more oxygenated water.

            right?

            one more favor. go to one of these places you are talking of – in spring time at night and listen – I think you’ll find that these places are chock full of wildlife!

          • cjboya – did you go download the VDOT Drainage manual?

            http://www.virginiadot.org/business/locdes/hydra-drainage-manual.asp

            I’d be curious if you have – and what you think of it.. it seems like a pretty complicated critter to me.

          • Okay one more quick question.

            you seem to think that VDOT is not doing work that it should be doing.

            but that work would require paying for men and equipment with VDOT funds.

            are you contending :

            1. – that they have the money but are not allocating it for more/better
            ditching?

            or

            2. – they don’t have the money… but should have?

            In other words – if there was money – and contractors could be hired to do the work – would that be okay also?

        • “VDOT roadside ditches were not built to drain the land. They were designed to take rainfall away from the roads.”

          yes – and usually from one side to the other ..flowing…

          “VDOT used culverts to allow streams to cross under roads. When the ditches and culverts are inadequate or unmaintained, the water backs up into what used to be dryer uplands. Hold back enough for long enough, and it stays flooded, not because of sea level rise, but because the water can’t flow.”

          but if that is true – what happens when it rains and there is runoff? it would seem to me that it’s either got to go through the ditches and culverts or it will climb the road and top it.

          ” Stream conditions have been degraded over the decades by VDOT practices or lack thereof. Normal stream flow causes a scouring effect that keeps a stream open and running. Speed it up too much, and you cause sedimentation downstream.”

          well speed it up too much and it will wash out culverts and undermine bridges like we see with maor rain storms.

          “(Think Accotink, not Mathews.) Block or slow it down too much, and you allow invasive vegetation growth that further blocks flow and can create swampy conditions.”

          nothing sits and does not flow unless it has no outlet or drains into the aquifer – like some streams do in karst country. but everywhere else – wherever we have about 40 inches of rain a year – the rain that falls has to go somewhere in a watercourse.

          even swamps have a “flow” .. it can almost be imperceptible but if you block it – it will top whatever you block – like a beaver dam…

          “Impound water until the oxygen is gone, and natural bacterial decomposition of dead plant matter causes a buildup of muck making the problem even worse. And that brings us back to depriving the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries of the oxygenated rainfall necessary for the health of the ecosystem.”

          I hear you.. I just respectfully disagree with you. rainfall runs off into streams and swamps and it has to go somewhere …

          and you’d be surprised cjbova – swamps are vibrant places… I know it seems counter-intuitive but they are oxygenated.. and have great diversity of wildlife..

          “If kitchen pipes were blocked, and water backed up onto the kitchen floor, no one would say the kitchen is reverting to an earlier state, or it’s because of sea level rise. The flooding would be recognized, and the blockage addressed. That’s all we’re asking for VDOT to do with its roadside ditches and culverts in Mathews County, to acknowledge and address its drainage failures.”

          I would ask that you consider doing this. Go to a place where you think there is a problem like this – and follow the outflow and convince yourself that it is blocked.

          then the next time you get 2-3 inches of rain – return there and tell me what you find.
          I think you might change your view.

    • VDOT’s rural roads are not like gridded city streets. There are no storm sewers in Mathews except in our tiny central courthouse areas. VDOT’s roadside ditches are intended to flow to a low spot in the terrain, and rainwater is supposed to flow from the uphill side of the road through a culvert under the road to a stream or outfall ditch. Roads are not uniform in height compared to the adjacent properties.

      Where the land is higher than the road, and blockages prevent free flow of water downhill to the other side of the road, water that exceeds the capacity of the ditch does overflow into traffic lanes. VDOT has addressed some, but not all of these situations.

      Where the road is higher than the ditch bank, and the land lower, water that cannot pass under the road of course flows downhill onto adjacent properties or into the woods. VDOT has, in some cases, excavated the ditches to hold more water, but this doesn’t fix the problem. The water is still trapped and cannot reach the creeks, rivers and bays.

      Outfall ditches or streams that should convey water from VDOT’s roadside ditches to the creeks, rivers or bays can also have blocked culverts or obstructions. (Few areas have serious beaver dam issues.)

      VDOT holds permanent easements on some outfalls, but has not maintained them. The book cites six specific outfall easements to the East River in a one and a half mile stretch of VDOT road as an illustration. The river is downhill and lower than all of these outfalls with VDOT easements. Sea level rise has nothing to do with inadequate maintenance over decades.

      • in the significant rain events – you’ll see water on the roads… but in normal conditions – where there IS rain but not excessive – if the ditches and culverts were not working properly – you’d have standing water – all the time on some of the roads -right?

        I mean the water has to go somewhere.. via some ditch or culvert or you’d have roads that remained covered with water most of the time.

        right?

        I’m still thinking that water either goes downhill or it stays in play and covers roads.. and I’m suspecting that VDOT doesn’t really care if it covers land that is not in it’s right-of-way… even if it never used to.

        in their BOS and drainage manual – they seem to as much as say this and that the only time they’ll seek to unblock a blocked outflow is if it is causing water to back up over the road.

        It sorta sounds like we agree on those aspects, right?

        if they had standing water on their roads – outside of larger storm events – they’d be out to do something, right?

        so you agree that VDOT pretty much keeps it’s roads above water for the most part? we actually have some up this way on some wetlands that drain into the Rappahannock… and those wetlands drain under pipes and culverts across US 17 on their way to the Rappahannock – and when the Rappahannock floods – sometimes those wetlands back up… and increase in surface area ..

        • I mean the water has to go somewhere.. via some ditch or culvert or you’d have roads that remained covered with water most of the time.

          right?

          Wrong. Go back and read my reply to your first comments where I explain about water on the roads. No, VDOT regularly ignores water in the traffic lanes on curves on a number of roads. 198 in Hudgins has water in the traffic lanes every rain. That’s the one exception where it does eventually run off to the edge (No ditches, no gutters, no drop inlets.) Except for that one, water standing on the road evaporates. It doesn’t run anywhere. If the water’s deep enough, long enough, or in a dangerous enough location, or a stream that can’t get through the culvert tops the road and actively flows across it, it gets resolved. But other places, like Canoe Yard Trail near 611, flood every rain. Go look at the Shutterfly gallery and Facebook page linked in the main article if you want to see for yourself.

          And whenever we don’t have drought conditions, we have ditches with standing water that were designed to drain in 3 days–and don’t.

          • we have roads up our way that have water on them when it rains but the water goes away in a couple of days – we just don’t have standing water on any of our roads unless there is rain.

            but you sure took a bunch of photos! a LOT of work did go into your book!

            so I admire your dedication to your work!

  3. Mathews County is flat because it sits in an ancient meteor crater — where the subsurface is still compacting and the surface is therefore sinking, some 35 million years after the event, considerably faster than the rest of Virginia due to ‘global warming’ or any other such climate driven phenomenon. That’s a subtle but real geologic problem on a decades-long timeframe, but year to year it’s not a significant factor.

    And that said, I have a home in Mathews and I have seen myself the sorry state of ditch maintenance along main secondary roads there. The main road on White’s Neck is one originally built by the County around 1900 through the poorly-drained land on a thick bed of oyster shells. I’m sure that doesn’t comply with current VDOT construction standards.

    • you know – VDOT has a program that’s called – reversion – where the county can take over maintenance – and receive substantial reimbursement from VDOT.

      If any county really believes VDOT is being irresponsible – just put them out of business.. and do the job yourself.

      again – lead, follow, or get out of the frickin way…

      we have complaints – lord do we have them.. but in Virginia – despite the Dillon concerns – the state is pretty darn flexible on the roads.

      sometimes – it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

      and believe me, I’m no apologist for VDOT.. they’ve got plenty of flaws – but on this issue – I do wonder what the real complaint is – and if the folks with the complaints are willing to exercise the options available to them…

      • Larry, Larry, Larry …

        How would any county possibly know whether VDOT is being responsible or not given the opacity of VDOT’s tax revenues and county-by-county expenditures?

        On a per capita basis, Matthews County should get $1.9M worth of road maintenance per year. How much do they get?

        • they don’t know unless they ask for an accounting but that’s not the real issue here and you know it guy.

          1.9 million is in the warm spit range of maintenance…

          but again – the money made available is not the issue – if you are expecting more service than VDOT will provide in the first place – regardless of the money. They could get 30 million but VDOT is still not going to maintain a ditch beyond it’s right-of-way.

          this is more blame-govt-no-matter-what … mentality – get the facts – use the facts – deal with the realities BEFORE you jump to conclusions that are wrong.

          the VDOT BOS Manual is crystal clear on what they will and will not do – no matter the amount of money.

    • Can’t say that road wasn’t done to VDOT standards. In December 1965, the Commonwealth of Virginia received a Deed of Gift for land for the White’s Neck road, “…for the location and construction, or other improvements of said road, so as to make a total width of right of way, including the present road, of 40 feet…. Together with the right and easement to construct, improve and maintain any drain ditches or other drainage facilities that may be needed for the proper and adequate drainage of said Route.”

  4. VDOT has a long history of questionable engineering with regard to drainage. The Accotink Creek fiasco is significantly caused by less than capable road drainage.

    Matthews County has about 1/1000 of Virginia’s population. VDOT spends $1.9B per year on road maintenance. 1/1000 of $1.9B = $1.9M.

    What has VDOT been spending on road maintenance per year in Matthews County? Has the county been getting shortchanged?

    • Don – did you read the verbiage on who is responsible for the ditch?

      VDOT assumes responsibility for ONLY the owned VDOT right-of-way – not land that it does not own…

      in terms of money – VDOT will allocate to Mathews it’s fair share of the gas taxes it generated – and if more is needed – then it becomes a conversation with the County.

      and again – if the County is not happy with VDOT”s service and costs – it can take over that job – and get reimbursement from VDOT.

      this is not something unique – every town and city in Va does this as well as two counties…

      Most counties that look into it – decide after all that they’ll get more money and services from VDOT than they can do themselves.. although one of the options is to get the money and use VDOT on a contract basis – and the benefit of that – is that the county can then set priorities for the allocations…

      again – go ahead and damn VDOT – but keep in mind that counties DO have options and you can’t play both sides of the issue. If you are unhappy – then take it over yourself…if not.. then keep VDOT and shut up.

      • What creates the runoff that necessitates the ditch? The roads that VDOT built?

        The problem with getting rid of VDOT does nothing to prevent you from paying state transportation taxes. You still pay the taxes but VDOT decides how much you’ll get allocated. As usual, they use both hocus and pocus in determining the allocation. As far as I can tell, Henrico gets short-changed while Arlington gets more than its fair share.

        Your point of getting rid of VDOT is quite naive.

        • re: ” What creates the runoff that necessitates the ditch? The roads that VDOT built?”

          not if they have a ditch or bridge to transport the water – and the thing is – if they do not – then the road floods..

          “The problem with getting rid of VDOT does nothing to prevent you from paying state transportation taxes. You still pay the taxes but VDOT decides how much you’ll get allocated. As usual, they use both hocus and pocus in determining the allocation. As far as I can tell, Henrico gets short-changed while Arlington gets more than its fair share.”

          it’s like that with EVERY Agency in Virginia Nimrod…

          what do you want?

          a separate state for each county?

          you’re now veering into that proverbial ditch guy.

          I’d agree they need more transparency on revenues and expenses on a per county basis. A few years back they actually did provide that data but now it’s at the VDOT district office level.

          But again – the point is that ALL counties are in the same predicament AND no amount of additional maintenance money will make VDOT change their policy on what ditches they will maintain; they’re still not going to maintain ditches beyond their right-of-way..

          Your point of getting rid of VDOT is quite naive.

          • re: ” Your point of getting rid of VDOT is quite naive.”

            Don, Don, Don – every city and town in Va does it’s own road maintenance (for non interstate/primary).

            It’s not naive to point this out – as it’s the clear reality.

            and yes – towns can “revert” and turn over their roads to VDOT so it can go both ways.

            it truly is the choice of the county .. to do their own or let VDOT or get the money and then hire VDOT on a per project basis.

            what more do you want guy?

            you want the counties to keep the gas tax revenues and have no VDOT?

            my lord – Don… sometimes you sound like a tea-party guy – and just about as smart…!

            😉

            I DO “get it” but do you? There are some realities here. they are what they are… can you accept them?

      • “…Keep VDOT and shut up.” Not in this lifetime! We tend to hold to old-fashioned concepts like accountability here. VDOT’s a $4.35 Billion dollar a year operation. Just over one-quarter of one percent of the Commonwealth’s roads are in Mathews, .27% to be exact (2.97% of the Fredericksburg District lane miles). There is no reason a tiny county should have to try to duplicate equipment already in the district’s inventory. No one’s asking for more than adequate and regular maintenance.

    • Don – on the maintenance – there are different pots of money. It’s not a pure per capita allocation.

      For instance, all interstates and primary roads are prioritized first – no matter what county they are in… they are roads that connect the state – that all drivers and commerce depend on.

      secondary roads – get a separate and smaller pot of money.

      how much it is – is not easily found – I’ll admit – but it almost surely is not the number of residents times the per capita calculation on a aggregate state total …

      and I’ll further stipulate that this is a shortcoming of VDOT and the State to not provide a proper accounting of transportation revenues and expenditures on a per county basis – and this is an example of why that is harmful.. people get confused about issues.. making assumptions that are wrong.

      one good way to BETTER calibrate maintenance costs is to look at the cities and towns who have primary responsibility… and see what they spend – per capita…

      • You are proving my point. Nobody knows how much VDOT is spending in their county. Nobody knows how much they’ll get allocated if they revert. So, they don’t change.

        Here’s my deal for you Larry. Hire your own security company to protect you home and property. You’ll keep paying all the taxes you presently pay. However, the government will give you a stipend of some unknown amount to help offset some / all / more than all of your security costs.

        Good deal?

        • Don – it don’t matter how much they spend or not or if you know it or not because their policy is to not maintain ditches not on their rights-of-way.

          re: ” Here’s my deal for you Larry. Hire your own security company to protect you home and property. You’ll keep paying all the taxes you presently pay. However, the government will give you a stipend of some unknown amount to help offset some / all / more than all of your security costs.”

          Don, Don, Don… have you heard of security guards and security systems that you’d buy in addition to tax-funded police?

          You don’t get all you can eat for one dollop of taxes.

          you get – defined services for your taxes – and what is not provided – is up to you.

          right?

          come on guy – you KNOW this..

          if you want more services than the schools provide or your health insurance provide – you’re NOT entitled to them because you already pay – …

          you get the provided services and if you want more – you are free to get more ..

          I’ve heard folks like you get up at hearings and say “I PAY my taxes and I’m ENTITLED to” and then they list out the things they think they are entitled to.

          it don’t work like that. you don’t get as much as you want for one low tax….

          that’s only true in deceptive commercials guy!!!

          come on Don – come back down to earth here… what in the dooda are you putting in that wine glass?

          😉

          • “Don – it don’t matter how much they spend or not or if you know it or not because their policy is to not maintain ditches not on their rights-of-way.”

            Correct.

            Translation. VDOT is a hapless bureaucracy that really doesn’t give a rat’s ass what needs to be done in Matthews County (or any other county for tat matter). The sacred policy book says ditches that are ruined by runoff from poorly engineered roads are somebody else’s problem.

            You have provide another fine example of why a strict implementation of Dillon’s Rule just doesn’t work.

          • re: ” Translation. VDOT is a hapless bureaucracy that really doesn’t give a rat’s ass what needs to be done in Matthews County (or any other county for tat matter). The sacred policy book says ditches that are ruined by runoff from poorly engineered roads are somebody else’s problem.”

            Oh for Pete’s SAKE! the policy says that ditches not on VDOT property are the responsibility of the owner… that’s fair..

            what would you have VDOT do instead – maintain every ditch in the county?

            and then you’d be bitching about VDOT spend tax money on things besides roads, right?

            “You have provide another fine example of why a strict implementation of Dillon’s Rule just doesn’t work.”

            Jesus H.. KEEEERIST –

            If the local fire and rescue have a LOS standard of 10 minutes but you want 5 – are they not giving a rat’s ass?

            If you call Comcast to fix your cable and they say next week – is that better?

            you get a defined level of service for the taxes you pay. You’re not entitled to more than that – and especially so not for the same taxes.

            someone has to make the cut…

            yes.. there are probably disagreements about where it should or should not be…

            but if you were going to be guided by the general public – almost surely what they would say is – “I’m entitled to MY IDEA of level of service for the taxes I pay”… so we have a gazillion different opinions as to what folks are entitled to and really no cogent appreciation of the reality of allocations and priorities – just – give me, give me, give me – and if you don’t give me then you are the most corrupt, evil and bad smelling govt – ever….

            I swear guy – you sound like the parents at School Board meetings asking for more and more courses and programs – no matter the money realities…

        • Don – can you imagine what would happen to VDOT if they changed their policy to maintain ditches beyond their right of way?

          how would that work financially when every county in Va would want the same deal?

          Don’t you think there is at least SOME VIRTUE in VDOT attempting to conserve it’s funds for things it IS responsible for – like roads?

          I would strenuously object to VDOT using tax money to maintain ditches on private property…

          I would be concerned if VDOT was going to maintain ditches on county property … if that mission extended to all counties in Va and was going to total up to millions, hundred of millions of dollars.

          The central issue here is where would VDOT draw the line if not at the boundaries of it’s right-of-way?

          Can you also imagine what kind of a job it would be – for VDOT to pay to re-survey these areas that it currently does not own – and does not have the plats for…???

          what’s the right answer? seriously.. how about an answer… ??

  5. Could I just say that this is why this blog is such a treasure to the Commonwealth? Good story and interesting comments….

  6. If you really want counties to consider reversion of local roads, VDOT would have to determine the amount that each county paid in transportation taxes each year. Then, it would have to determine the split between local road funding and other funding. The counties would have to remit a known percentage of their transportation collections to the state for USe in interstates, etc.

    Matthews County might be told that they generate $4M per year in transportation taxes. They might further be told that the statewide split between local and non-local is 50/50. Matthews County could elect to keep their $2M per year and manage their own local roads (and ditches).

    All other counties would be given the same information. All other counties would have the same choice.

    Every five years the amount of transportation tax money generated by county would be reassessed and the distribution back to the “self-service” counties would be adjusted.

    Any county could augment its funding by implementing any tax of any type desired by the county. Those taxes would be collected and kept by the county and would not be subject to any oversight or skimming by Richmond.

    Deal?

    • yes.

      but a large part of this is already done.

      it’s now much more difficult to do a county-by-county accounting because the state has switched to a percent tax – at the distributor – whose service area won’t match up with county boundaries… so each truck that leaves loaded charges 3.5% on it’s load which then gets tacked on to the price of each load delivered to each gas station – without regard to which county it is in … So you can have a loaded truck go to stations in Prince William, Arlington and Fairfax so how would you keep track of gas taxes paid in each county?

      but in each case – VDOT makes the formal offer for devolution- as they have for Stafford recently and Stafford decided not to do it.

      and as far as local taxes are concerned – that’s a done deal also.

      Look at local transpo referenda. Then look at transportation tax districts and CDAs… and last but not least – a select few number of counties that are allowed to assess transpo impact fees – as Stafford County has – and all of these guaranteed to stay with the county.

      but now we are both thinking similarly.

      VDOT meets with our BOS – every meeting – twice a month -and one by one talks to each BOS about maintenance issues in their district – and invariably – they promise to fix the problem – and invariably they’ve done it 99% of the time by the next meeting or they will give a status update.

      but here – this has been addressed recently –

      ” New study addresses issues facing Virginia’s secondary roads
      Stafford County Sun Staff | Updated Dec 21, 2012

      RICHMOND — Last week Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton announced the publication of a new study titled “Policy Options for Secondary Road Construction and Management in the Commonwealth of Virginia.” The study, authored by Dr. Jonathan L. Gifford, a professor at the George Mason University School of Public Policy, discusses historical aspects of Virginia’s secondary roads policy, the current issues facing secondary roads in Virginia and potential policy options for the Commonwealth’s secondary roads.

      “The Commonwealth of Virginia is one of only four states in the nation that maintains responsibility for the vast majority of its secondary roads,” said Connaughton. “Virginia’s 97,629 lane miles of secondary roads are vital to the Commonwealth’s economic prosperity and our citizens’ quality of life. This study looks at every option to adequately address future secondary road system needs.”

      http://m.staffordcountysun.com/news/article_677c1977-54a7-59d8-9604-d0a1b7a1f10d.html?mode=jqm

  7. Interesting discussion; but devolution of the secondary system that the State took over in the 30s is not high on Mathews’ list; the capital cost of buying all that maintenance equipment probably is the major impediment, putting aside the possibly unfair $$ allocation. Just because Henrico and Arlington opted out of the initial takeover does not mean that it makes sense for any county to try to do what VDOT ought to be able to handle more efficiently. Fairfax has gone through periods of angst over lack of control over the sort of minor projects that VDOT seems to be incapable of doing on an ad hoc basis; but there’s no great pressure for devolution of the secondary system there. Even less so, I’d imagine, in a very rural county like Mathews.

    • here’s the devolution handbook that VDOT provides to counties that might consider:

      Guide to County Assumption Of Secondary Roads (Devolution Guidebook)

      http://www.virginiadot.org/business/resources/SecRoadsFinalDevolutionGuide3-30-07.pdf

      The analysis I’ve seen seems to warn that devolution would be more expensive to the county especially with the maintenance – – and staff – and operations – but VDOT could also be hired to do the work.

      The BIG advantage that I see is that the county could set priorities as well as break projects up into smaller pieces than VDOT might… and phase them different…

      and devolution can also extend to include – improvements and new construction – which would dovetail much better with faster growing counties that are getting proffers and impact fees one at a time from new re-zones – this allows the county – again to break up projects into smaller parts and do phasing in a different way – perhaps more advantageous to the county than VDOT’s typical command and control approach – which tends to make projects get delayed and held up until all their ducks are in a row.

      As has been pointed out – this is not exactly rocket science for all of Virginia’s cities and towns – and ALL of the counties in 46 other states.
      It’s the NORM – not the exception.

      One caveat – no matter the jurisdiction – VDOT retains control of Interstates, US-signed Federal Aid arterials and State Primary roads.

      What we’re talking about here is the 600 series and 1000 series (subdivision) roads.. and some other miscellaneous… as well as roads in a county that are not now part of the State system – usually older Ad-Hoc subdivision roads.. family subdivisions,etc..

  8. This is another example of why VDOT–the state agency whose motto is “Oops!–is too big to function effectively.
    The cumbersome annual dance, known as the Secondary Six Year Plan, where localities are given the opportunity to prioritize road projects– assuming that they can be funded– guarantees that issues like ditch maintenance and improvement will be perpetually at the end of the queue, especially for rural counties.

    Road dollars in Virginia tend to follow the people, read voters, so small jurisdictions like Mathews have little clout in Richmond. Fragile bridges and crumbling traffic lanes grab more headlines than a few failing septic fields far from the halls of power.

    There’s a lot more to taking over roads than just getting a check from VDOT. It is unlikely that a locality’s “share” of state transportation funds would cover the cost of hiring employees and buying equipment.

    • Agreed. So a group of smaller counties (population wise) might have to band together.

      As far as hiring employees and buying equipment – why not contract the work out to private companies in an open and fair bidding process? As much as I detest the lack of fairness of the Beltway HOT lanes I must say that Flour – Transurban built those lanes in a small fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost cited by VDOT as the estimate for VDOT doing the same work.

      How much did McDonnell find stashed in various VDOT accounts when he first took office at the bottom of a recession? A billion? That should have been enough to get a lot of counties thinking about ditching VDOT.

      How much money was frittered away on the Rt 460 fiasco without a single spadeful of dirt being dug? $300 – $400M? That should have been enough to get a lot of counties thinking about ditching VDOT.

      How much damage has to be done to the Chesapeake Bay by VDOT building roads that cause runoff but refusing to deal with the runoff? That should have been enough to get a lot of counties thinking about ditching VDOT.

      Unfortunately, the allocated funds to Henrico and Arlington prove that our state legislature cannot be trusted to treat the divested localities fairly.

      • “As far as hiring employees and buying equipment – why not contract the work out to private companies in an open and fair bidding process.”

        well – agree, but VDOT is always available if needed… perhaps on a retainer basis.

        ” As much as I detest the lack of fairness of the Beltway HOT lanes I must say that Flour – Transurban but those lanes in a small fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost cited by VDOT as the estimate for VDOT doing the same work.”

        exactly – and yes.. and the reason why I’ll off below…

        “How much did McDonnell find stashed in various VDOT accounts when he first took office at the bottom of a recession? A billion? That should have been enough to get a lot of counties thinking about ditching VDOT.”

        well first of all it was not maintenance money – it was construction money and it was stranded because each individual project is usually funded incrementally over 6 or even more years and when money runs short – these projects get delayed further and when then happens – inflation eats into what they had allocated so they fall further behind and what McDonnell did was the same thing that Govs before him did – periodically – was to recognize that there was never going to be enough money to fund all the projects so they cut some and consolidated money to others.. i.e. got rid of stranded.. and moved forward on the remaining ones.

        again – a case of the public not truly understanding the issue – and developing opinions – not based on facts.

        “How much money was frittered away on the Rt 460 fiasco without a single spadeful of dirt being dug? $300 – $400M? That should have been enough to get a lot of counties thinking about ditching VDOT.”

        again – you’re confusing maintenance money with construction money. Maintenance money comes first and what is left goes to construction with a slightly different angle on PPTA.

        but VDOT allocates it’s construction money – based on it’s policies – which include their policy on ditching their ROW and not beyond it. If you want to change that policy – for all counties – it will increase the amount of money needed for maintenance and in turn reduce construction money further.

        can’t have it both ways.

        “How much damage has to be done to the Chesapeake Bay by VDOT building roads that cause runoff but refusing to deal with the runoff? That should have been enough to get a lot of counties thinking about ditching VDOT.”

        now you’re off the trolley- AGAIN – are you opposed to roads in general because they have runoff ??? You know Don, if you think about this – quicker runoff transports nutrients into the Bay – QUICKER whereas if it is sequested in a holding pond – it gradually get assimilated by the plants.. and in fact, you’ll actually see this done now day son some kinds of storm ponds

        so what is it you want VDOT to do instead? stop building roads or build fewer storm ponds .. or what?

        “Unfortunately, the allocated funds to Henrico and Arlington prove that our state legislature cannot be trusted to treat the divested localities fairly.”

        oh blah blah blah… in 46 other states – not two counties – ALL the counties take care of their own roads….

        how about we go from the 3rd largest road system in the country to one that is sized to our area – like other states – and let Henrico and all other counties deal with their own roads without VDOT involved in it at all?

        Wouldn’t that be less Dillion and more Home Rule as you advocate?

  9. these 600 series roads- are basically categorized as “access” roads.

    some of them in areas like Fairfax morph into “connectors” and even “arterials” but in many counties they serve no other real function – than access to people’s property – they serve no real state transportation purpose – other than allowing access to people’s property and supporting the use of that property for things beyond residential – like farming or other commercial uses…

    Which – if you go back to Harry Bryd – was his justification for the State taking over these roads – to allow them access to markets and jobs and to provide a place for electric and telephone poles on public rights-of-ways.
    Texas did something similar but in Texas those roads are “signed” as FM (Farm to market). In 46 other states – those roads are “signed” as CR (county road).

    If you are traveling for the holidays – especially in states besides Va, NC and Texas – look at the roads that go over and under the interstate and see how it is “signed”.. Some might say US (which is a US aid road) and others might say “CR” – and there are probably some other nomenclatures…

    Roads are fascinating. In Virginia – Roads used to be the purview of the Episcopal Church – because that was their role in England.

    And back in those days – people did not oppose roads coming through their property -they did the opposite – they got into vociferous arguments demanding that roads go through THEIR properties. And that’s one of the reasons why Va is criss-crossed with thousands of miles of “secondary” roads – those roads were originally put there by the Episcopalians who required each parishioner to donate so many hours a month to road-building.

    Harry Byrd himself also operated a private toll road.

  10. there’s also something about hydraulics that is missing here.

    If VDOT has a road – and water is trying to get from one side of it to the other – and the ditches are blocked – the water will rise and then flow across the road.

    So it’s pretty easy to see if VDOT is doing the maintenance or not.

    If BOTH sides of the road are increasing in water level – but equally – then this indicates not a blocked ditch but instead water-rise all around the road.

    and as far as GPS and geo-surveying – it’s probably a legitimate complaint because VDOT probably a slew of ditches to maintain that they really don’t have the original paperwork for – to prove – to the inch where their right-of-way is – but on the other hand – they very likely have a pretty good idea – within a few inches where the original right-of-way is – even thought it might take substantial resources to go the the courthouse and get it properly surveyed… On a ditch that have a value of a few thousand dollars – spending thousands more in title searches.. etc.. just seems not an effective use of tax dollars – but I’ll admit it could be argued both ways.

    I suspect as the years go by – if there is real sea level rise and land subsistence that VDOT is going to close and abandon roads where the water on both sides rises and covers the road. In these cases millions and millions dollars would be required to basically build a causeway and replace low bridges with higher bridges.

    In fact, it might be interesting to ask VDOT to survey their roads to see just how many might be going “under” if sea level rises several inches. I bet it’s quite a few and the financial implications are not trivial.

    it might be good to ask VDOT give an analysis of the major tunnels it maintains – giving scenarios for 6, 12 and 18 inches of sea level rise (or whatever) and the cost to mitigate it… and fold that into it’s longer term financials. Also – to deal with the issue that sea level rise won’t occur as some slowly creeping higher tides but instead storm surges that take several inches of sea level rise and turn it into several feet of storm surge – like happened with Sandy.

    Oh and I’m quite sure – positive – that somewhere down the line – this is going to be liberals and Obama’s fault!

    😉

  11. It seems to me that if VDOT opened the ditches then all the toxins that are being absorbed by the flooded ground will then flow into the Chesapeake Bay. Wouldn’t that go against the federal/regional Chesapeake Bay agreement to curtail toxins from flowing into the bay, resulting in dead wildlife? Maybe the environmentalists should leave the ditches alone and try a different path.

  12. Darrell: Once the ditches are open and flowing, shellfish can filter the toxins when they reach the Bay. Oxygenated rainfall that flows freely will help prevent re-establishment of the cyanobacteria.
    ==========================
    Many statements in previous comments do not apply to the situation in Mathews County. The links in the article provide extensive documentation of flooding across roads and blocked VDOT ditches. Here are some facts to clarify a few points.
    1. Drowning a County only addresses drainage of state primary and secondary roads; it does not discuss subdivision streets.
    2. VDOT roadside ditches are in the VDOT right-of-way.
    3. The streams, rivers, bays, or channels in marshes, aka receiving waters, are always at a lower elevation than VDOT’s roadside ditches.
    4. Sea level rise is not the problem. The lowest marshes in Mathews still drain to bare mud twice a day at low tide, as do adjacent ditches. Some roadside ditches further inland and at higher elevations drain; many do not. 1872 and 2009 nautical maps show the water depths haven’t markedly increased from one map to the other.
    5. Some VDOT roads in Mathews flood with every rain. Some have water on curves when it rains. Some roads have been elevated which prevents flooding across the road.
    6. Water cannot flow at all when dammed up by an elevated VDOT road with blocked ditches and culverts. The water backs up and floods properties and woods.
    7. VDOT channelized many streams and some river headwaters. Where these streams cannot flow freely through under the road culverts, they back up into the upland areas, and lack of flow degrades the stream conditions downstream as well.
    8. Water trapped in VDOT roadside ditches increases the probability of saturated roadbeds, decreasing the longevity of the roads according to the Federal Highway Administration. Since primary and secondary roads and their drainage systems are Commonwealth assets, the Commonwealth should be maintaining and protecting them.
    9. Mathews doesn’t have land subsidence related to excessive groundwater withdrawal that other areas have.
    10. Drainage is a non-partisan issue.

    • don’t confuse 6-yr plan for improvements with maintenance of existing facilities. In Virginia – the Constitution requires VDOT to fund maintenance (and ops) first and then improvements with whatever is left over.

      In the last fews years as state revenues have fallen dramatically, there has been less and less, some years – zero – available for 600 years new improvements but VDOT will continue to accept into the State system – subdivision roads built to state standards. VDOT will also accept roads not built to state standards on a limited basis, sometimes cost-match if endorsed by the BOS but in our area – there is always a list waiting. Many of these come from private subdivisions and family/friend subdivisions of land.

      In 46 other states – none of these roads would be the responsibility of VDOT.

      People may not believe it but VDOT ranks very high compared to other DOTs … I think in the top 5.

      I know folks in Mathews and visit and yes it’s a flat place with a lost marsh and swamp and flooded land… but not lived there over time so don’t know if the area waters are rising or the land sinking or if VDOT maintenance is worse than average or typical, etc….

      I know in my own county they show up twice a month at the BOS meeting taking requests and they perform almost all of them – with the exception of expense things like new stop lights unless they are warranted by traffic counts, etc.. but they do ditches and brush clearing – all the time… and they also have a “fix-a-pothole” link on their page – and if you give them an accurate location – at least in our county – they’re out to fix it.

      on the water ting – if you have flowing water from springs or runoff or even tides – and you dam it up – with a beaver dam, a man-made dam or a road – the water will continue rising and top the dam or the road… what ditches do is convey the water away from the road to keep the water from eventually topping it. If the road does not go under water – then the ditches are, by definition – working to keep the road from going under water.

      now – there may be other issues beyond the immediate right of way of the road – that are causing damming… sometimes natural vegetation over decades..growing up.. sometime beaver dams… sometimes internal non-Vdot roads, etc… but VDOT see’s it’s responsibility ONLY for the VDOT right-of-way which is usually for secondary roads just a few feet on either side and that’s the standard they typically use no matter what kind of in-house paperwork or maps they might have or not for very old roads.

      again – keep in mind – if this was Maryland or South Carolina or Georgia or Delaware – NONE of these roads would be VDOT’s responsibility. On Va and 3 other states take care of local roads.. NC, TX and Alaska. All the other states make counties responsible for them.

      finally – VDOT has a policy that applies to all counties with regard to maintenance and it has gigantic financial implications if they were to change that policy to include going beyond the current right-of-way and from the reading of the complaints – it’s hard to understand if folks are complaining that VDOT should be maintaining ditches beyond the right of way or they are not maintaining the right-of-way itself – if this is a unique Mathews-only complaint or about all counties..

      It could be that the VDOT maintenance office down that way is not so good or has far more ditches that they have allocated money for… but if someone is saying that VDOT at the state level is no maintaining roads properly – across many counties – I would certainly confront VDOT about it and get their response – which Jim Bacon probably should have done – because the value of his blog – at least one aspect of it – is to develop facts – to learn things one did not know .. and become less ignorant – and I’m not using that as a pejorative – I use it on myself and it means there are things I do not know that I might should learn – especially if I’m going to develop and hold an opinion… I should know the facts and not base my opinion on false info.

      One finally thing – if you want an example of just how old the current VDOT service areas are – Mathews is in the Fredericksburg District – and the reason why is that the VDOT service districts were drawn according to the 1933 congress district lines!!!! Mathews does have field maintenance offices and facilities… in Saluda…

      and finally, finally, I’m no apologist for VDOT – instead a harsh critic at times on some issues – but I also try to be fair and on this issue I think VDOT is doing it right and the complaint is more about the conditions beyond the immediate VDOT right-of-way – because a blocked ditch means the road goes under water.. and that just does not happen very often to VDOT’s roads unless there is a big storm or some weather event that reveals a partial blockage.

      So perhaps the question I would ask – is – do Mathews roads go under water during storm events… ??? where there is a lot of rain?

      just checking the local paper and see this:

      Pair of Spotsylvania drainage pipe jobs will take longer than expected

      http://www.fredericksburg.com/news/transportation/pair-of-spotsylvania-drainage-pipe-jobs-will-take-longer-than/article_20921256-dc82-5d99-9ff2-b41301944f10.html

      both of these are in subdivisions and one pipe is being replaced with a box culvert and guardrails – not cheap. This type of VDOT activity is fairly common in our area.

  13. “According to VDOT staff in Saluda, many old road plans have been lost or damaged, and some plans have been discarded for lack of storage space. … VDOT, as an institution, has lost track of what deeds it holds and even the location of some of the property given to the Commonwealth of Virginia for drainage by those deeds. …”

    Wow!

    “We’re running low on cubical space boss”
    “Throw out some of those plans and deeds that are getting in the way of our employee morale improvement team’s cubes!”

    • some, perhaps most of the secondary roads – date from before Harry Byrd way back to when the Episcopal church was in charge of roads in Va.

      Not even sure how rights-of-way were legally determined and deeds drawn up.

      Virginia has a very old road system – perhaps one of the oldest in the country and probably do need to have it re-surveyed and digitized, etc but VDOT has always been primarily road builders and engineers and less information technology and computerization of data and equipment.

      It’s still – from what I read – one of the more advanced technology State Transportation agencies in the 50 states.

      It’s just that roads have been around a long time and basically opened up the country to commerce and there was no real organized approach to building them – including the right-of-ways which often were just Ad Hoc paths that never really had a deed to start with…

  14. Let me also give a plug for the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation & Research which has some fine people who work hard to research, develop and maintain information and history about Virginia Transportation.

    http://vtrc.virginiadot.org/

    … who sometimes read these pages at times and will respond to questions about road history in Virginia – and whom I think could write a few informative articles for BR

    IF you search for ”
    “Backsights”: Essays In Virginia Transportation History – it will get you started on, what I found to be, fascinating history…

    and a lady named Ann B. Miller
    Senior Research Scientist
    Email: Ann.Miller@VDOT.Virginia.gov

    is a good person to talk to – to learn more about Virginia Transportation History.

  15. Actually – perhaps it would be a good thing if Ms. Miller was agreeable to offer her perspective on the Mathews issue since she is an expert on Virginia Road history…. how about it Anne?

    here’s a list of her work (note the ones entitled “road orders” and “right of way” )

    Projects:
    106422 – Update for Management Plan for Historic Bridges in Virginia – Principal Investigator
    101941 – Survey and Management of Civil War Monuments in the VDOT Right of Way – Principal Investigator
    101596 – Loudoun County Road Orders – Principal Investigator
    101947 – Historic Bridge Management Plan: A Scoping Update – Principal Investigator
    81088 – Backsights: Essays on Transportation History – Principal Investigator
    91418 – Survey of Early Virginia Road Stones, Milestones and Related Objects – Principal Investigator
    86734 – Montgomery County Road Orders – Principal Investigator
    84657 – Fincastle County Road Orders 1773-1776 – Principal Investigator
    73233 – A Management Plan for Cultural Resources in VDOT Rights-of-Way – Principal Investigator
    78150 – Botetourt County Road Orders 1770-1778 – Principal Investigator
    76743 – Determination of Best Practices for the Rehabilitation and Moving of Historic Metal Truss Bridges – Co-Principal Investigator
    73195 – Frederick County Road Orders 1743-1772 – Principal Investigator

    Publications:
    99-R17 – Augusta County road orders, 1745-1769
    98-R3 – Survey of metal truss bridges in Virginia
    98-R28 – A survey of movable span bridges in Virginia
    97-R1 – A survey of non-arched historic concrete bridges in Virginia constructed prior to 1950 :final report
    94-TAR13 – Culpeper County road orders, 1763-1764 :final report
    90-R6 – Orange County road orders, 1750-1800
    85-R2 – Orange County road orders, 1734-1749
    14-R9 – A Management Plan for Historic Bridges in Virginia: Update/Scoping Phase
    13-R10 – Loudoun County Road Orders 1757-1783
    11-R19 – “Backsights”: Essays In Virginia Transportation History: Volume II: Reprints of Series Two (2000-2007)
    11-R18 – “Backsights”: Essays In Virginia Transportation History: Volume I: Reprints
    11-R13 – A Case Study of the Loop-Welded Eyebars Removed From the Advance Mills Bridge in Albemarle County, Virginia
    11-R10 – New Kent County Road Orders 1684-1758
    09-R14 – A Survey of Early Virginia Road Stones: Sign Rocks, Milestones, and Related Objects
    08-R14 – Montgomery County Road Orders 1777-1806
    07-R32 – Fincastle County Road Orders 1773-1776
    07-R22 – Botetourt County Road Orders 1770-1778
    07-R19 – Management Considerations for Cultural Resources in Virginia Department of Transportation Rights of Way
    06-R31 – Best Practices for the Rehabilitation and Moving of Historic Metal Truss Bridges
    05-R32 – Frederick County Road Orders 1743-1772
    04-R17 – New Kent County and Hanover County Road Orders, 1706-1743 :transcribed from the vestry book of St. Paul’s Parish
    03-R10 – Identification and application of criteria for determining National Register eligibility of roads in Virginia
    02-R14 – Amelia County road orders, 1735-1753
    01-R11 – A management plan for historic bridges in Virginia
    00-R11 – A survey of masonry and concrete arch bridges in Virginia

    • Larry, one problem facing any historian working in Mathews is that the County’s records pre-1865 were shipped to Richmond “for safekeeping” during the C.W. and burned there when Richmond burned at the end of the War. Before 1790 Mathews was a part of Gloucester; but Gloucester records suffered the same fate. The roads and ditches and fences in place at the War’s end became landmarks for surveys going forward, but there are no deeds from earlier years (except the occasional uncertain copy).

      There are other obstacles. One problem, comparing Mathews to other counties, is the dead-flat sandy soil. It’s a problem in that many ditches in Mathews are so level they do not seem designed to flow anywhere so much as simply hold the surface water until it evaporates or dissipates into the subsurface sand. Even if they were originally designed to flow somewhere, the gradient is so slight that they’ve long ago given up that function but still serve nicely as holding basins. When a ditch doesn’t drain, it’s hard to tell what is intentional design versus what is an accident of VDOT neglect under conditions like that.

      A third problem, not unique to Mathews, is the stuff that floods INTO many of these roadside ditches that join (or become) natural tidal estuaries. In flat Mathews, a ditch may only be inches higher than the natural stream it empties into and that stream may become clogged by storm-fallen trees and storm-washed mud hundreds of yards from VDOT’s ROW. Is it VDOT’s responsibility to keep all the tidal streams in the County clear of obstruction just because an upstream roadside ditch may be affected?

      This is not an apology for VDOT, especially for records lost or discarded in modern times; but I think it’s wrong to diagnose stagnant ditches in Mathews as evidence of poor maintenance by applying expectations borrowed from hilly Piedmont.

  16. We don’t need pre-1900 records to prove VDOT responsibility for their roads today. The 1917 USGS topo map shows a lot of roads that were abandoned in favor of those built by VDOT (or its predecessors) before and after the Byrd Act. While the 1935 VDOT Route Map shows 96.49 miles of VDOT secondary roads as of Jul 1, 1932, only 1 mile of the 10.45 miles shown as hard-surfaced by 1934 was done prior to the Byrd Act per Commonwealth Transportation Board minutes. When the Commonwealth hard-surfaced, realigned or widened its roads, it also designed and constructed the drainage systems using donated or purchased land with associated drainage easements. So while colonial road history is interesting, it has nothing to do with the roads VDOT designed, built and should have maintained.

    As noted in Drowning a County, VDOT’s iRUMS “advanced technology” can track every detail of right-of-way and land acquisition for new roads, but projects are not cross-referenced, and iRUMS information is not available to VDOT staff after a road is completed according to the VDOT Right of Way & Utilities Division. I also debunked the VDOT “myth” that original deeds are kept at the County Courthouse, a misconception held by VDOT staff in the Richmond, Fredericksburg, Saluda and Mathews offices.

    • I do not doubt for a minute that land records for many older Virginia roads are not in excellent condition.. for that matter a lot of county courthouse records for much land beyond what VDOT (which used to be the Virginia Dept of Highways) … has been lost and or corrupted.. and not put in digital form.

      and it should be fixed – but it won’t free free nor quick… and whatever is spent – will reduce what is left for construction money.

      and in terms of water – I’m a paddler of 40+ years so I’ve been on a few waterways and the one thing one has to realize about water is that it will seek it’s level .

      so water at higher levels will find a way to go downhill to lower levels – and keep doing that until it hits the Bay.

      the only water that sits or not flow downhill is water in karst terrain which going into the groundwater – .. and we have a river or two that does that – the “Lost River” disappears and re-emerges to become the Cacapon River and there are a few others but other than that -even swamps will empty into something else – when rains come… and water flows into them.. they’ll empty into the next watercourse.

      if there is a dam – man-made or critter/beaver – they’ll fill up and climb the dam until they top it. and then go downhill.

      If water is trying to get from one side of a road to the other – if there is no ditch or there is but the ditch is blocked – the water – when it rains – will go higher and higher until it tops that road and flows over it -and when it does that it will damage, undermine and destroy the roadbed – and you can see this when we have hurricane type weather that destroys roads whose ditches and even bridges cannot convey the volume of water trying to go downstream.. it will top the road and then wash out the road including the approaches to bridges.

      water will not flow uphill and it will not continue to increase in depth unless it has a perfect bowl without an outlet – but even then – eventually -even with mountain lakes – it will eventually fill.. and then top the rim and go downstream.

      VDOT’s maintenance budget is predicated – statewide on only being responsible for the immediate right of way along their roads. The only time they’ll vary from this is if some obstruction away from the road is backing up water over the road – then they will do something. This can happen if a beaver builds a dam next to a road and creates a dam that backs the water up.

      but if what is downstream from the road is essentially sea level – and it backs up from high tide or a heavy rain event -there is nothing VDOT can do about that – there is no where the water can go once it hits sea level -and actually in those cases – VDOT will have to make a decision to either temporarily close the road or if longer term, abandon the road or make the roadbed higher.. You can clean the ditches out but if the water in that ditch is at sea level – it won’t help.

      finally – if you go up and down the East Coast – there are only Two states where the VDOT and NCDOT deal with these issues on county roads. In all the other states from Maine to Md to South Carolina to Florida – these issues belong to the County… and it’s usually paid for out of county taxes – not gasoline taxes… unless they have a local gasoline tax.

  17. LarryG wrote:

    again – keep in mind – if this was Maryland or South Carolina or Georgia or Delaware – NONE of these roads would be VDOT’s responsibility. On Va and 3 other states take care of local roads.. NC, TX and Alaska. All the other states make counties responsible for them.

    NONE is a very absolute word, and in the case of Maryland, its use in this context is not quite correct.

    Counties (and in some cases municipalities, though most of the state is unincorporated, just like Virginia) do maintain most of what Virginia calls secondary network roads. But the state DOT does maintain some secondary roads and streets, often “leftovers” from a re-routing of a primary network road and in some cases dead-end roads with very low traffic volumes.

    finally – if you go up and down the East Coast – there are only Two states where the VDOT and NCDOT deal with these issues on county roads. In all the other states from Maine to Md to South Carolina to Florida – these issues belong to the County… and it’s usually paid for out of county taxes – not gasoline taxes… unless they have a local gasoline tax.

    Maryland’s DOT is supposed to give county and municipal money out of its Transportation Trust Fund (most of which comes from state motor fuel tax receipts) to fund at least some of the costs associated with operating and maintaining non-state public roads.

    • I stand corrected… sounds like Maryland did grandfather .. All these states including Maryland DO maintain STATE roads, interstates and primary roads.

      And the last point – I know not very much about how the financing for local roads is done – if the state shares some of the gas as Virginia does but in some states there are local road commissions – similar to local school boards – and in those states both the road commission and the school board have separate taxing authorities and are elected.

      but again – there are 3 issues that people do not really understand and won’t spend much time trying to but even if they do – it’s complicated and convoluted – health care, education and transportation.. I’m sure there are others but those three are readily part of most people’s lives every day.

      and in Va, it’s popular blood sport to go after VDOT for all sorts of real and perceived wrongs.. of which some are richly deserved but some are basically misunderstandings of VDOT’s responsibility – and equally important – their financial ability … to do… which sounds ridiculous for an agency that spends billions of dollars a year but roads are expensive… as anyone who has paved their driveway or been in a gated community that pays fees for roads will tell you.

      In Virginia – people who live in subdivisions – that are maintained by the state are often net recipients of gas tax dollars – i.e. they get more in road services than they pay in gas taxes whereas people who live in houses with private driveways or apartments or condos don’t get any similar such services… for their driveways or parking lots.

      Again- what I try to do is work off the facts on one level and on my own views and opinions on transportation/VDOT policy on a separate level.

      For instance – I do have issues with the way VDOT not providing a proper accounting of monies on a per county basis – routinely – on a regular website where folks can go and see what VDOT has spent in maintenance and improvements for a given year for each county. I think that would go a long way towards showing people that truly enormous sums of money are required. People who live in gated communities with HOAs know this – roads – paving, plowing, ditching, repairs, cost a LOT of money and it’s a real tough choice to be a gated community – and often it’s an upscale community for folks with incomes sufficient to pay the road fees.

      but when it comes to ditches – I think their policy is essentially correct and fair in part because I just don’t know how far away from any road you could justify that VDOT should maintain… 10 feet, 100 feet, 1000 feet? ???? what would be the criteria?

      and for existing rights-of-ways, if VDOT does not actually maintain the ditches around it’ roads – those roads will eventually be seriously damaged and rendered not usable – and truth-be-known – how many folks know of such roads that VDOT did not maintain and went into such disrepair that they no longer were safe and usable and had to be closed? I know of almost none.

      The only roads I DO know of like that in my county – are ones that are either not in the VDOT system – usually roads to Ad Hoc subdivisions that were not designed and built to VDOT standards in the first place and so VDOT won’t take them without the owners paying to bring them up to minimum standards – or unpaved roads that ARE in the VDOT system that they will not pave or improve beyond their current condition unless enough people live on them and/or the county will prioritize them for the allocations they receive each year to do that. Our county has a list of unpaved roads in priority order that they will pave – as VDOT allocations become available. There are other programs that offer match funding and pave-in-place or rural rustic – all of these can be found on page 21 of their Board of Supervisors Manual and their policies on ditching in the same manual.

  18. LarryG wrote:

    and in Va, it’s popular blood sport to go after VDOT for all sorts of real and perceived wrongs.. of which some are richly deserved but some are basically misunderstandings of VDOT’s responsibility – and equally important – their financial ability … to do… which sounds ridiculous for an agency that spends billions of dollars a year but roads are expensive… as anyone who has paved their driveway or been in a gated community that pays fees for roads will tell you.

    Agreed. I have personally seen VDOT staff get torched more than once for things that were either not their responsibility, or the dispenser of the torching for did not understand the issues involved, or sometimes both.

    Even worse, I have seen the same people that like to torch VDOT conveniently forget to torch other public agencies that have committed sins (IMO) much more egregious.

    For instance – I do have issues with the way VDOT not providing a proper accounting of monies on a per county basis – routinely – on a regular website where folks can go and see what VDOT has spent in maintenance and improvements for a given year for each county. I think that would go a long way towards showing people that truly enormous sums of money are required. People who live in gated communities with HOAs know this – roads – paving, plowing, ditching, repairs, cost a LOT of money and it’s a real tough choice to be a gated community – and often it’s an upscale community for folks with incomes sufficient to pay the road fees.

    VDOT does report out VMT (vehicle miles traveled) for each county and city across the Commonwealth. To me, that is much more important, and should be the start of any debate involving state-maintained routes. Start here for the details for 2013.

    • yes – that’s AADT – and it can be pretty useful..but I’d wish they add other stuff it – like a histogram to detail how high and long peak hour is along with LOS gradations to highlight when conditions get worse and for how long.

      here’s the VMT data:

      http://www.virginiadot.org/info/resources/Traffic_2013/VMTReport_2100R_2013.pdf

      that kind of info would help when comparing roads to see which ones should be prioritized for improvements.

      On the money thing – one of the “blood sports” in Va is to claim that your own county or city is getting screwed by VDOT because they’re giving away your money to other counties and then that, in turn, justifies accusing VDOT of all kinds of other nefarious bad deeds… like Mathews…

      I just think a simple proper accounting helps clear up such misconceptions and actually helps encourage people to deal with the issues. Most folks have no idea just how expensive it is to maintain roads; they have no idea that most of their state gas taxes get eaten up by road maintenance and that since Virginia has the 3rd largest road system in the nation that spend most all the state tax money on maintenance and we rely on the gas tax money from the Feds to build improvements and new roads and that in years recent, we are converting Fed money to maintenance…

      My view is that the more that people know the facts – the more they understand the issues, the money, and the harder it is for them to harbor just flat wrong information and engage in VDOT conspiracy theories. The govt’s view is apparently if people actually know they might be more involved in the issues – and that’s not desirable! For instance, notice how many ordinary people were involved in the legislation to change the gas tax from per gallon to percent.. the average person had no clue.

  19. LarryG wrote:

    yes – that’s AADT – and it can be pretty useful..but I’d wish they add other stuff it – like a histogram to detail how high and long peak hour is along with LOS gradations to highlight when conditions get worse and for how long.

    Agreed. But.

    Data like that are now available for all (or very nearly all) of the VDOT primary highway network in urban and suburban parts of the Commonwealth.

    But that sort of analysis (at least currently) requires a lot of work by a highly-trained engineer or planner and is not cheap.

    • re: cost of data…

      well they have to put sensors down to capture the data anyhow… and if you look at the actual existing data product – they apparently have some of this already – like they have peak hour data and separate weekday data…

      the LOS and VMT data are calculated from the raw data anyhow…

      and in Cville – my understanding is that they are going to put real-time sensors on the lights so they can operate off of real time conditions which is a step up from programmed/synchronized lights that use canned historical data.

      So I think they have most of what they need – but perhaps need more, i.e. minute and/or hour by hour data.

      but you can see where I am headed. though the data collection and processing is not cheap – it’s cheaper than new roads or even widening roads if the data can be effectively used to develop better congestion management measures…

      it also can tell them – when they’re pretty much maxed and they have squeezed all they can out of congestion management measures and even then – what they can do is put up message signs advising people of the delays … and perhaps even making this info available via smart phones…

      VDOT, believe it or not – with the help of the Virginia Tech Transportation Research folks – make Virginia one of the more advanced transportation agencies in the nation.

      and I’m all for it… I think what drives people bananas is “dumb” traffic signals and signage and failure to do simple things to relieve bottlenecks…

      some day – GPS units – both dash and phone versions – will not only show you the “red” on the slammed roadways – but it will suggest an alternate path OR it will tell you – that at that time and place, you are screwed – turn around and take a break…

      If all these measures are in place and working correctly – people know that most of everything has been done – and heavy traffic is ….heavy traffic…so, so be it.. learn to live with it or figure out how to avoid it next time if you can.

      We go south on Rt 29 at Christmas instead of I-95. In theory, it’s an hour further to where we are headed near the Sand Hills – but in reality – if traffic is bad on I-95 – it’s only marginally longer but it is infinitely less stressful.

      more and more on I-95 – folks will clog up the left lane and then people will start passing on the right then force their way back into the left hand line… and it seems to be getting worse and worse… and one or two idiots can basically set up a moving roadblock that goes for miles and miles… until inevitably one or more others will do something even more incredibly stupid and dangerous…

      Rt 29, OTOH – only has a few of that kind of thing.. and it’ usually over with fairly quick.

  20. I wrote Drowning a County–When Urban Myths Destroy Rural Drainage to document the facts about Mathews and state highway drainage issues, but I’m not going to try to write another one here to refute all the mistaken ideas expressed in these comments. Let’s just look at a few important facts.

    Mathews has only 1.72 miles of subdivision streets in the state secondary road system, including the streets around the historic courthouse square. This isn’t suburbia; it’s an old rural peninsula on the Chesapeake Bay. Secondary roads are not private lanes for one or two homes. They are the essential links between homes, post offices, schools, businesses, churches, wharves and beaches throughout the county.

    Yes, there were agricultural ditches in the past, but agricultural acreage today is only about 11% of that in 1910, and those ditches are not the ones discussed in the book, except for a few used as outfalls to receiving waters by VDOT for their roadside ditches. These roadside ditches and culverts, by the way, are all in the VDOT right-of-way, and they have not been adequately maintained for decades.

    When landowners donated or sold their land to the Commonwealth for public roads, land for necessary drainage facilities was included. Most of Mathews’ roads were widened, realigned or newly constructed after the Byrd Act, and fewer than ten miles were paved at the time of the Byrd Act in 1932. VDOT designed the drainage and acquired land and rights-of-way for road additions, changes and drainage. VDOT also secured permanent easements for some outfalls taking water from roadside ditches to creeks, rivers and bays. And no easements are required to use natural streams as outfalls, only to go on private property to address stream obstructions.

    To try to dispel one more myth: Sea level rise is not the issue in Mathews County, nor is subsidence. What was overlooked in the earlier comments is that the land under the Chesapeake Bay is also in the impact crater and is subject to the same “settling.” Since the depth of water in the Bay adjacent to Mathews is not significantly deeper since 1872 nautical maps, and surveyors have not recorded any instances of serious land subsidence, neither subsidence nor relative sea level rise are responsible for the failure of the VDOT drainage system.

    Water won’t run uphill; especially when super-elevated road curves are involved. If the culverts under those elevated roads aren’t open and channels beyond those curves aren’t open, the water fills the roadside ditches and backs up into woods and onto private property for significant distances. It will not rise high enough to flood the traffic lanes at those locations. It will, and does, pond in traffic lanes where roads are not elevated.

    <blockquote cite="On the money thing – one of the “blood sports” in Va is to claim that your own county or city is getting screwed by VDOT because they’re giving away your money to other counties and then that, in turn, justifies accusing VDOT of all kinds of other nefarious bad deeds… like Mathews…" Larry, until you’ve read the book, you have no basis to make a statement like that, and you’d have even less if you did.

    There is not one sentence in the book about money going to other counties. There is, however, extensive documentation of incorrect and uninformed VDOT statements, as well as the more than 15-year saga of three one-year revenue-sharing projects between the County and VDOT to clean outfall ditches. The documentation speaks for itself, and there are nine pages of references for anyone to double-check or explore the issues in more depth.

    • re:
      Let’s just look at a few important facts.

      “Mathews has only 1.72 miles of subdivision streets in the state secondary road system, including the streets around the historic courthouse square.”

      you should look at this listing of roads in Mathews including 700 series subdivision roads:

      http://www.virginiadot.org/info/resources/Traffic_2013/AADT_057_Mathews_2013.pdf

      “This isn’t suburbia; it’s an old rural peninsula on the Chesapeake Bay. Secondary roads are not private lanes for one or two homes. They are the essential links between homes, post offices, schools, businesses, churches, wharves and beaches throughout the county.”

      in 46 other states – these roads would be county roads not state roads.

      “Yes, there were agricultural ditches in the past, but agricultural acreage today is only about 11% of that in 1910, and those ditches are not the ones discussed in the book, except for a few used as outfalls to receiving waters by VDOT for their roadside ditches. These roadside ditches and culverts, by the way, are all in the VDOT right-of-way, and they have not been adequately maintained for decades.”

      wouldn’t you say though that older ditches not maintained and growing up with vegetation are not going to drain like they used to?

      “When landowners donated or sold their land to the Commonwealth for public roads, land for necessary drainage facilities was included. Most of Mathews’ roads were widened, realigned or newly constructed after the Byrd Act, and fewer than ten miles were paved at the time of the Byrd Act in 1932.”

      when you say “MOST” and then “fewer than 10″ .. seems contradictory. not sure what it says now that I read it again.

      ” VDOT designed the drainage and acquired land and rights-of-way for both road additions, changes and drainage. VDOT also secured permanent easements for some outfalls taking water from roadside ditches to creeks, rivers and bays. And no easements are required to use natural streams as outfalls, only if maintenance needs to be done from private property.”

      okay. what’s the point here?

      “And to try to dispel one more myth: Sea level rise is not the issue in Mathews County, nor is subsidence. What was overlooked in the earlier comments is that the land under the Chesapeake Bay is also in the impact crater and is subject to the same “settling.” Since the depth of water in the Bay adjacent to Mathews is not significantly deeper since 1872 nautical maps, and surveyors have not recorded any instances of serious land subsidence, neither subsidence nor relative sea level rise are responsible for the failure of the VDOT drainage system.”

      its not how much deeper – it’s how much land is now covered with water – to include way more than just land next to roads..

      “Water won’t run uphill; especially when super-elevated road curves are involved. If the culverts under those elevated roads aren’t open and channels beyond those curves aren’t open, the water fills the roadside ditches and backs up into woods and onto private property for significant distances. It will not rise high enough to flood the traffic lanes at those locations. It will, and does, pond in traffic lanes where roads are not elevated.”

      if there is water draining into these areas why does it stop instead of continuing to fill and then overflow?

      you make it sound like they flood to a certain level and then stop but if they are draining land that has rainfall – water will continue to run off and continue to fill ditches .. until they overflow…

      water does not run uphill but if water is draining from land that is receiving rainfall. it has to go somewhere… right?

      “<blockquote cite="On the money thing – one of the “blood sports” in Va is to claim that your own county or city is getting screwed by VDOT because they’re giving away your money to other counties and then that, in turn, justifies accusing VDOT of all kinds of other nefarious bad deeds… like Mathews…" Larry, until you’ve read the book, you have no basis to make a statement like that, and you’d have even less if you did."

      my comment is with respect to what I've read and heard from a variety of places including BR when it's NoVa folks will swear up and down that the state is diverting money to rural Va …

      "There is not one sentence in the book about money going to other counties. There is, however, extensive documentation of incorrect and uninformed VDOT statements, as well as the more than 15-year saga of three one-year revenue-sharing projects between the County and VDOT to clean outfall ditches. The documentation speaks for itself, and there are nine pages of references for anyone to double-check or explore the issues in more depth."

      there were a couple of statements and implications that gave me the impression that Mathews was not getting sufficient money for VDOT to properly do the work.

      then there were other statements that VDOT does not do the work in any of the counties.

      All I can say is that VDOT spends every penny. Either you feel they need to have more money or you think they have it but don't spend it for Mathews.

      Do you think VDOT has enough money? Surely you don't think they have the money but refuse to spend it on maintenance…

      seriously.. what do you think? My thinking is that they're probably spending the money that Mathews should be getting but it's not a whole lot – and so they prioritize what they can afford to do – and basically – that's keep their roads from being flooded and anything beyond that is not something they have money to do.

      and I would presume that if they were not doing what they should be doing – they'd be having roads go under water. Has that happened? Are there road closures in Mathews because of flooding?

      I HAVE provided several VDOT publications that fairly well explain how they go about drainage and ditching. They seem reasonable to me. I assume what's in those publications actually is what they do unless you think otherwise.

      Let me finish by saying – I can be blunt but I intended no insult or slight .. and if I did come across that way – please accept my apology.

      I’m primarily interested in understanding the facts and if VDOT is truly not spending money they do have – on maintenance – then the word about it needs to spread – but need to make sure that’s the facts.

  21. The other thing here – is that VDOT is not likely to spend substantially more money on Mathews roads that what Mathews drivers generate in taxes – no matter how many miles of road they have (there is SOME consideration for miles).

    But the bigger point is that VDOT divides up the state in how to allocate maintenance money and until I see something that shows differently – I’m not going to believe that they short Mathews and give the money to other counties – or vice versa.

    Now, if someone wants to say – not enough money is spent – and in turn because they do not collect enough to start with – I can accept that premise.

    but then that would mean – everyone – in all counties would have to pay higher taxes so that VDOT can do “more”.

    and that would, more than likely, require the General Assembly to agree to increase taxes to pay for more maintenance – something they’re not going to do unless they hear from people – in Mathews and other places that are essentially demanding higher taxes for more/better maintenance.

    there is one other path – and that is for the County itself to pick up where VDOT leaves off – but again – someone is going to have to pay for it.

    I just question the idea that – for instance – Mathews County pays a lot more in taxes than they are getting back in maintenance. I’ll certainly believe it if someone provides clear facts but I can’t accept it as an assertion that because you’re not getting the maintenance you want that you are being shortchanged. That IS a common complaint across the state – but I’ve never seen it actually demonstrated with factual data.

    • The book doesn’t complain about the amount budgeted for the County; that suggestion came from another poster. The point is VDOT is not using their maintenance budget efficiently and effectively, and in some cases, not at all. In addition to VDOT’s regular budget, the County has put up half the cost of specific revenue-sharing projects in the past. I describe three one-year projects where VDOT took over fifteen years to spend the money without accomplishing the original goal.

      • hmmm.. did not realize that revenue sharing was used for maintenance.

        also is it true that they had maintenance money they did not spend and there was maintenance issues on the roads as a result?

        I would think there would be some folks fired over that..

        hope you had a good start to 2015!!!

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