Keep The Country Heritage Or Create A Dangerous Speedway
As you know, there is an effort to put Shoemaker School Road into the Rural Rustic Road Program, which would replace our gravel road with a paved surface. We stand against that plan because it gives up exactly what many of us came out here for: A slower-paced country feel on the road where we bike with our kids, and walk, and jog and even ride a golf cart or horse without worrying about some speeding car or work truck popping over the next hill. Yes, the road is sometimes dusty or muddy, riddled with potholes at each end, dulling shiny cars and slowing our mini-rush hour, but that's poor justification for changing the whole spirit of the road. What's next? Speed bumps, maybe street lights?
Just a few facts:
The Rural Rustic Road Program paves roads. Period. Check out Loudon's two examples, Loudoun Orchard Road and Mt. Gilead Road. They are between Leesburg and Hamilton and are the path to the Willowcroft Farm Vineyards. They are paved. Worse, it appears that the old gravel road was just tarred over, making permanent the washboard effect. Speeding's no problem because there's nothing to deter drivers. You'll see the skid marks drivers made peeling out on the road. And it looks horrible: The sides are uneven and broken. See for yourself. The first picture shows the paved Loudoun Orchard, the second the tore up intersection with Mt. Gilead.
While you're taking a look around, talk to some of those who live on the road. They've told us that the fight over the road split the neighborhood and now most are upset because of the shappy condition of the pavement.
Speeds and traffic will surge. VDOT warns of this. From their Rural Rustic Road fact sheet: "Generally, the existing alignment should be capable of safely handling the traffic volume and increased speeds that may result from the improved riding conditions." A paved Shoemaker School Road will become more of a pass-through for work trucks and those headed to Philomont and North Fork than it already is, to say nothing of the impending traffic crush when the two large housing developments at the Telegraph Springs end start up. We have all seen trucks and a few neighbors take as much advantage as they can now of Shoemaker, at 40 mph or more. Trucks going faster than that? Nobody wants that.
Most of us actually travel only four-tenths of a mile on the 1.5 mile-long Shoemaker School Road to Route 690. Is it really such a hardship?
We too have polled some neighbors and find a desire to keep the road gravel. "People will drive even faster. The holes and the dust do not bother me. Such is life in the country!" says one. "Don't Ashburn our neighborhood," says another.
Maybe instead what we can do is call VDOT more often when Shoemaker deteriorates. That has worked in the past when we've called to request grading and the trucks were here within a week. We did the same after the Route 690 resurfacing in November left a four-inch ledge at the end of the road. In less than a day, an email to the Leesburg office prompted a phone call from the St. Louis substation (540-687-8512) where a fix was promised and delivered upon the very next morning. What's more, VDOT also sent a grader with a very courteous driver to fix the potholes on the whole length of the road. It's not a perfect solution. There isn't one, but at least we keep our country feel and limit the speed.
Either way, paving is a long way off. First, the street has to jump through all sorts of county-required hoops and be put in the six-year secondary roads program, then the paving has to be funded. The director of the program, Michael Estes, wrote in an email:
"The County Board of Supervisors must make this a priority within their secondary road program. The program also requires a formal resolution by the County BOS designating the project as a Rural Rustic Road project. Any appeals and/or concern from affected constituents would be heard as part of the County’s processes. For example, the County adoption of the secondary road program includes public comment."
And considering that the recent election moved the board of supervisors to the preservationist side, inclusion isn't assured.
If you have a position, let Jeff Greene or us know because you have a vested interest in the outcome. He's started a good debate with the Rural Rustic Road proposal. We think that it should continue with everyone's input and as many facts as can be gathered.
Paul and Michele Bedard, 36675 Wood Duck Court.