Rappahannock News

Supervisor­s OK footpath, hear input on tra c study


The Rappahanno­ck County Board of Supervisor­s met for their monthly meeting on Monday and approved a footpath in the Town of Washington, and dozens of county residents attended a public hearing on a tra c study to lower speed limits and make Sperryvill­e and Flint Hill more pedestrian friendly.

The body also discussed sta ng recommenda­tions for the Sperryvill­e Volunteer Rescue Squad. Hampton Supervisor Keir Whitson was absent from the meeting due to medical reasons.


More than a dozen residents showed up to a public hearing for a state-funded dra tra c study, which recommende­d that the speed limit be reduced on part of U.S. Route 211 in Sperryvill­e near Shenandoah National Park.

The study also aims to make Sperryvill­e and Flint Hill more pedestrian friendly, by expanding sidewalks and crosswalks. Residents who spoke at the hearing said they’re most concerned with how fast cars drive down Main Street in Sperryvill­e and through Flint Hill in front of Skyward Cafe, making it di cult to walk along those roads on narrow sidewalks.

This study comes a er the Virginia Department of Transporta­tion declined requests from the county to reduce the speed limit, despite numerous tra c accidents occuring in the area. The study, published July 15, was conducted by consulting rm Toole Design Group that was hired by the Virginia O ce of Intermodal Planning and Investment Growth’s Accessibil­ity Planning Technical Assistance Program

and was funded by VDOT.

No o cial action was taken by the body on Monday, but members agreed that next steps will include talking with the Rappahanno­ck County Sheri ’s Of ce on tra c enforcemen­t e orts and exploring options for listening sessions with residents to seek input.

Many of the residents who spoke on Monday supported recommenda­tions in the study, and others said more needs to be done to calm tra c near the county’s gateway to the national park and make the villages more pedestrian friendly.

“I will tell you this study is not so much about sidewalks — it's calling for sidewalks and crosswalks and things, but this study really is about making Sperryvill­e a community again,” said Kerry Sutton, president of the Sperryvill­e Community Alliance and owner of Before & A er cafe. “It's about getting people out on the road, on the sidewalk, saying hi to one another again. It is not an economic developmen­t tool.”

The study proposes that a sidewalk be created on the north side of U.S. Route 211 between Atkins Road and U.S. Route 522 in Sperryvill­e to accommodat­e pedestrian­s. To protect those on foot, the group recommends the 55 mph and 45 mph speed limits along U.S. Route 211 be reduced to 35 mph near the Schoolhous­e Nine golf course, then

down to 25 mph in a pedestrian-heavy zone that extends east to west roughly from the entrance to Headmaster’s Pub to Atkins Road, before rising back up to 35 mph past downtown Sperryvill­e heading toward the park.

“I implore you to come and sit on my porch and see how fast tra c goes by every single day,” said Patricia Brennan, owner of Thornton River Art on Main Street. “I worry about people trying to get to my shop, because if you step out of that sidewalk, you are in the road… somehow we have to slow the tra c down on Main Street before someone gets hit, because it's inevitable.”

While the recommenda­tion outlined in the study did not come directly from VDOT, it can be used to sway the agency into making changes, according to Wake eld Supervisor and Chair Debbie Donehey. The study could also be used to seek grant funding to create sidewalks and crosswalks, which, if installed, would prompt VDOT to reexamine road conditions in the area, according to county Administra­tor Garrey Curry.

Piedmont Supervisor Christine Smith said she was concerned that no public outreach was done while the study was being conducted. Rappahanno­ck-Rapidan Regional Commission Executive Director Patrick Mauney said on Monday that the study was conducted a er multiple eld visits by the consulting rm and reviews of available data from the state and county.

“In walking from places in the village, there would be big implicatio­ns for homeowners if sidewalks are installed that are ADA compliant, because there's just not a lot of real estate in some places in the village, which is, I think, conversati­ons we need to have before we rubber stamp sidewalks,” Smith said.

Board members agreed that they want to see some action to address traf c by mid- October. Since last fall, Smith has been advocating for electronic eld display signs in some of the villages to encourage people to slow down. The body approved the purchase of speed display signs in November 2021, but are waiting for approval from the state.


The Board of Supervisor­s approved 3-1 a footpath in the Town of Washington across county property to provide better access to the post o ce. The body rst discussed the request in May and had concerns about the uidity of the path while the courthouse complex awaits renovation­s.

Jackson Supervisor Ron Frazier, Wake eld Supervisor Debbie Donehey and Stonewall-Hawthorne Supervisor Van Carney voted in favor of the footpath. Piedmont Supervisor Christine Smith voted against the proposal.

The body granted a license for

the town to build an eight-foot wide trail for pedestrian access and recreation­al activities and to allow the constructi­on, access and maintenanc­e of a pedestrian path. According to the license, the county can terminate the trail at any time or modify the location of the trail with a 30-day notice.

The path, a mulch walkway along Warren Avenue that connects Gay Street to the post office, was approved under the condition that there will be two signs on either side of the path that says it can only be accessed from dawn until dusk. The town suggested in the original proposal to build a wooden, raised boardwalk in the wetland areas, but nothing specific was mentioned in the signed license agreement.

In opposing the measure, Smith said it would encourage people to be “where they wouldn’t normally be.” She also cited concerns about the footpath running near a maintenanc­e shed containing county property. Frazier cited similar concerns, but still approved the proposal.

“Sometimes when you open up parts of a working complex in ways that wouldn't normally be open to the public, it's not an ideal situation,” Smith said. “And I've even said before in Building Committee meetings that I think that maintenanc­e shed should be county personnel only.”

Carney retorted that the footpath is planned to be on public property where people are already permitted to access, and that being able to safely walk from

Gay Street to the post office will be a positive addition to the community.

“I think if there's a concern about stuff in the county shed, genuinely, we should address that,” Carney said. “Nobody wants anything to walk off. And if we do have things walking off … and that's happening, that's a large oversight on our part.”

Town of Washington Mayor Fred

Catlin said at the meeting that the town would be willing to adjust the footpath to accommodat­e potential renovation on the courthouse complex. It’s the town’s goal to have a paved sidewalk along Warren Avenue to allow people to safely walk to the post office, but Catlin said the alternativ­e would be a temporary solution.

“Really the whole idea is to try to be as amenable as possible,” Catlin said on Monday. “We do not want to try to hamper in any way the county's work toward their courthouse. So if you need to change things once you start digging ground, then we perfectly understand.”


The Board of Supervisor­s referred a request for additional staffing for the Sperryvill­e Volunteer Rescue Squad to the Public Safety Committee as the company expects to face shortages of available paramedics in the coming months.

SVRS Chief Todd Summers requested considerat­ion by the county to provide paramedic coverage during the time that SVRS will be unable to complete a crew. The body authorized county administra­tion and the company to work out necessary logistics to ensure the company is staffed for the month of August.

Summers is requesting that the body authorize a plan to staff SVRS with Rappahanno­ck County Fire and Rescue Department paramedics for overnight shifts and stage the chase vehicle, which typically includes one paramedic or EMT to follow an ambulance to emergencie­s, at SVRS during day gaps.

According to county documents, for long term considerat­ion, county staff recommends that the volunteer companies collective­ly discuss options at the associatio­n level and make a proposal to the Public Safety Committee for eventual considerat­ion by the Board of Supervisor­s.

 ?? BY LUKE CHRISTOPHE­R ?? The Board of Supervisor­s met for their monthly meeting on Monday, Aug. 1. Hampton Supervisor Keir Whitson was absent from the meeting due to health reasons.
BY LUKE CHRISTOPHE­R The Board of Supervisor­s met for their monthly meeting on Monday, Aug. 1. Hampton Supervisor Keir Whitson was absent from the meeting due to health reasons.

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