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Project could see 2019 start

A $3.7 million project that would increase safety and ease of travel at the intersection of South Main Street and Milnwood Road is now set to begin earlier than expected.

Kate Eggleston

According to VDOT spokeswoman Paula Jones, the project scheduled to start construction in 2019. “Keep in mind that VDOT’s fiscal year begins in July, so the start of FY 2020 is July 2019,” Jones said.

“The Town of Farmville is further along in the process of having everything ready to begin the project than many of the other towns which is why the Milnwood and Main project is moving forward with (the Virginia Department of Transportation) at a faster pace than expected,” said Town of Farmville spokeswoman Kate Pickett Eggleston.

“We have meetings scheduled in the upcoming weeks to discuss easements and other specifics. The project was funded so quickly because VDOT assessed the various projects throughout the commonwealth that have been approved,” she said.

Eggleston said while the project’s timeline has changed, “To our knowledge, funding sources are the same. We still don’t know when the project will begin. We have a utility meeting next week and still have to get easements.”

According to Eggleston, the VDOT Six-Year Improvement Program has $238,206 allocated toward the project. SMART SCALE is recommending $2.5 million for

Gerald Spates

allocation and the town is set to allocate just over $900,000 toward the project.

According to the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s (CTB) SMART SCALE Application portal, the project includes a protected left-turn lane into Tractor Supply Co. for northbound traffic and the same for Milnwood Road traffic headed south.

“It’ll actually be adding an additional lane each way,” said Town Manager Gerald Spates in a previous interview, who added the town’s hoping the state will pay for “a good majority” of the project.

The plans for the intersection have been done “for a couple years,” he said.

“I thought it was going to start two years ago,” Spates said of the project. “I thought we’d be funded by now because we’ve got the plans and everything done, we’ve got all the right of way designated. We’re ready to go. Other than probably 30 days, we could probably be out for bid,” Spates said.

“I would even think if we would get 80 percent funding we’d probably go ahead and do it,” Spates said regarding funding from the state in the previous interview.

“It could start earlier … They’re some projects (across the state) that are slated to start earlier, and depending on whether they’re far enough along to keep up with the funding, some projects may move up, some projects may move back,” Spates said. “When they say the projects start, that’s when you can start spending money,” Spates said. “You’ve got to buy right of way.”

In August 2015, a schematic of the proposal was displayed for town council members during their work session.

During the work session, Spates speculated that work could get under way in the next 12 months.

The intersection has been the site of numerous accidents.

According to the state’s SMART SCALE application process — one that scores proposed projects for safety, congestion mitigation, accessibility, environmental quality, economic development and land use — the project could see $3.7 million allocated in funding.

SMART SCALE designates it as having “statewide high priority.”

“The project includes the construction of new intersection roadway, traffic signal reconstruction and adding (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant crosswalks, sidewalks, curb cuts and push buttons to assist pedestrians with safely crossing the road,” according to the SMART SCALE website.

“Coordination is underway with VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration to ensure this project complies with state and federal regulations that protect the natural, built and human environment,” according to the website. “There will be no relocations of homes or businesses, no adverse effect on historic properties and no permits required from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The purpose of this project is to enhance the safety of this high-traffic volume and high-accident intersection. This project is Farmville’s number one priority and is the only (House Bill 2) project application.”