The first five days of the full closure of Route 9 in Hillsboro and implementation of the Regional and Local Detours has proven to be successful, providing the traveling public safe routes and enabling a safe, efficient and productive work zone. Many thanks to law enforcement for their work and guidance, to local residents for their helpful observations, and to the traveling public for their patience and usage of the Regional Detour.
As we anticipated, some early tweaks were required on the Hillsboro local detour and those have been, or are being implemented immediately, including stricter limitations of access to Cider Mill by non-local commuter traffic and additional speed limit signage on Stony Point and Woodgrove Roads.
With respect to the full closure itself, I’d like to address some issues that have been raised. Most specifically, this closure was agreed to by VDOT to address immediate public health issues related to the water main breakage and the current situation of COVID-19, and is not a part of the original planned closures.
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis and Virginia’s “stay-at-home” orders and school and business closures, there was a dramatic decrease in traffic on Route 9. Concurrently, in April the Town of Hillsboro saw the collapse of its old water main and its emergency replacement with a temporary, above-ground main, creating a public health concern. This prompted the Virginia Department of Health to urge prioritization of the new permanent water main installation, which had been slated for late fall.
These factors led to consideration by VDOT and the Town of implementing a full road closure as soon as possible, which was ultimately approved by VDOT in mid-April and began May 4.
This significant departure in our planned construction schedule required a complete rework of construction schedule and sequence, advancement of material, equipment, supplies, human resources, detour signage fabrication and installation, and hiring of additional work crews.
The contractor, Archer Western, has mobilized multiple crews to accelerate work and the Town has encouraged them to use this time to leverage progress as it relates to other critical-path elements of the project, such as the roundabouts and utility duct banks and vault installations throughout Town.
This road closure allows for much higher productivity and efficiency that will likely result in advanced completion, but most critically, occurring now, the closure vastly improves the safety for residents, workers, school children and motorists.
All parties agreed that this unforeseen closure period falls outside the prior-approved 60-day total closure window permitted by VDOT. There remain elements of the project that will require full closure and that cannot be completed during this current closure. However, it is our hope and expectation that the future full closure periods will be truncated as a result of this current closure.
As we did with the original schedule, when there is an approved new sequence of work and a new overall construction schedule, it will be shared with residents, businesses, commuters and the greater public.
—Mayor Roger L. Vance