VDOT and Town agree to extend full closure to advance project, ensuring no additional full closures in 2020, benefiting local agribusiness during their fall peak season.
Hillsboro, Va., June 23, 2020—The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has approved the Town of Hillsboro’s request to extend the existing full closure of Route 9 in the Town through August 15, ensuring that no additional full closures will occur during the ReThink9 traffic-calming and pedestrian safety project in 2020.
Hillsboro Mayor and Project Manager Roger Vance applauded VDOT’s partnership in continued traffic analysis and evaluation of innovative work requests during the COVID-induced shut-down, which has significantly reduced area highway traffic. “In keeping with requests for extended lane closures,
VDOT responded to allow us to maximize work during COVID-19 traffic reductions, Archer Western deployed multiple work crews to accelerate underground utility excavation and installation of encased duct banks and manhole vaults, communications conduit, stormwater structures, drains and crossings, sanitary sewer main and laterals.”
“It’s simply common sense and good governance to maximize productivity during this extraordinary time when traffic remains light, schools are closed, the weather is favorable, and we have extended daylight. And, as important as anything else, full road closure provides the highest level of safety for our workers, residents and motorists,” Vance said.
“The construction schedule was originally built with two periods of full closure later in the year. The revised plan eliminates the need for these.” Vance said. “Extending the full closure now will lessen the project’s impact on our area agribusinesses during their busiest fall season. Weather permitting, this action now may even afford us the opportunity to open the road to two-way traffic by late November, months ahead of schedule.”
On May 4, an emergency full closure was implemented to address the public health emergency after the Town’s old water main collapsed in April, requiring temporary above-ground piping. According to Vance, the water main installation and service connections are on track for completion by June 26.
“After realizing tremendous progress of all elements of the project under full closure,” said Vance, “and with our contractor, Archer Western, adding work crews, extending work days to 10 and 12 hours during six- and seven-day work weeks to deliver exceptionally high productivity, we sought to extend the full closure—while traffic counts are at historic lows, with the condition that there be no additional full closures in 2020 and requiring certain critical-path elements are completed.”
The Town, VDOT’s Northern Virginia and Staunton Districts and Archer Western agreed to an updated aggressive schedule during full closure intended to ensure completion of key elements in August, months ahead of the original schedule, including utility duct banks and vaults, sanitary sewer main and laterals and the stormwater drainage system under Route 9. Both east and west roundabouts will be functional in early August, five weeks ahead of schedule.
While all of the agribusinesses along the Route 9 corridor are always directly accessible via the Local Hillsboro detour, Vance said the Town is committed to lessening the road construction impact during the peak fall tourist season. Beginning August 16, the project’s “partial closure” phase will begin, which allows one-lane eastbound traffic from 4 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. weekdays to accommodate commuters, and then starting on Friday afternoons, one-lane westbound traffic through Sunday evenings, to accommodate visitors to area agribusinesses.
In addition, Vance said, “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on all of our area small businesses.” He said the Town continues to support and promote area businesses during construction by investing heavily in two “open for business” programs. The Town shared the cost with Loudoun County and Visit Loudoun, and included participation of the Chamber of Commerce, Greater Hillsboro Business Association and the Loudoun Heights Agritourism Council, to produce a web-based promotional campaign aimed at consumers, along with a companion “toolkit” to be used by each business to help travelers plan their visits. The Town has also produced and posted dozens of “wayfinding” signs along the local detour route to help visitors find their way to the area’s wineries, breweries, farm stands, bed and breakfasts and restaurants.
Hillsboro Vice Mayor Amy Marasco, the project’s Deputy Project Manager, said, “Extending the full closure has many benefits for motorists. It moves the project forward, it’s safer and it also minimizes the hassles we’ve already experienced with the temporary water line installation under flagger operations, as that prompted queues lasting as long as 25 minutes because of alternating single-lane travel.”
The Regional and Local Detour routes will continue to be in place during the extended closure timeframe. “The regional and Local Hillsboro detours have performed exceptionally well, with only minor incidents reported,” said Marasco. “Law enforcement has told us that the public has grown accustomed to the detour.” She added, “The detour routes were established, and safety improvements were made, to handle the full volume of traffic originally projected by VDOT to use the detour—with schools in session. We are grateful for the tremendous support we have received from State Police and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Fire and Rescue for monitoring the detours and keeping them safe.”