Change could come to Chesterfield roads

Posted at 6:58 PM, Feb 02, 2014

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- A bill working its way through the General Assembly would make significant changes to how Chesterfield County handles road maintenance.

Currently, VDOT maintains all secondary roads in Virginia, except in Henrico County and Arlington County.  Those localities receive a higher level of funding from VDOT but are responsible for all secondary roads and any work that is needed on them.

S.B. 606 would give Chesterfield County leaders the option to opt out of state maintenance in order to receive the same amount of funding and the maintenance responsibilities that come with it.

Road maintenance includes fixing potholes, snow and ice removal, and any other work required to keep secondary roads in good condition.

"I think it would be an easier mechanism to get the right kind of reactions when you need them," said Virginia State Senator John Watkins (R-Powhatan, Chesterfield, Richmond), who sponsored the bill.

If the bill passes, Chesterfield County would not automatically take control of their secondary roads.  The Board of Supervisors would have to pass ordinances to set the change in motion, Watkins said.  He added county leaders he has spoken would want multiple studies into the bill's impact before changing anything.

A big question from those involved in the bill is where the funding would come from.

According to a fiscal impact statement on the bill, "additional revenue would be needed to fund additional Departmental costs associated with higher rate of payments to Chesterfield."  Otherwise, the funding would likely come from VDOT's secondary road maintenance budget, taking money away from other state maintained roads, the statement said.

Some Chesterfield residents hope lawmakers can figure out the numbers.

"A lot of the secondary roads [in Chesterfield] I come across look like swiss cheese," said Alexis Carrasquillo.

Carrasquillo said he thinks the bill would allow for quick responses to problem spots in Chesterfield.

S.B. 606 is currently before the Senate Finance Committee.