Rural Roads & Bridges
The Rural Roads group works with VDOT and County Transportation staff to support proper maintenance and preservation of Loudoun’s historic rural road network.
The project group supports the following:
- Maintenance of unpaved roads in a safe condition.
- Maintaining traditional alignment and width, using gradable surfaces, protecting banks, stone walls and roadside trees, and preserving the rural and historic character of the roads and their surroundings.
- Improvement of selected sections of unpaved roads to reduce severe maintenance problems without significantly altering their appearance, alignment or surface.
- Applying VDOT “Rural Rustic Road Program” policies for hard surfacing and improving drainage.
- Encouraging context sensitive improvements to reduce maintenance costs and enable the road network to meet 21st century transportation needs.
- More resources and appropriate legislation to support proper maintenance and preservation of these roads.
Members meet regularly with VDOT and County Transportation staff to accomplish these goals and advocate for preservation of the roads to elected officials.
Activities and accomplishments
Members of the Rural Roads group joined forces with a team of Loudoun journalists and historians to form America’s Routes, with the mission of creating public awareness and appreciation for the beauty and history of these country roads.
The team has produced an Emmy-award-winning video (“The Long Road Home”), written stories about the everyday people and lives are intertwined with these rural routes, now and in the past, and generated an archive of photos of their beauty and the imminent threats they face. These videos, stories and more can be found on the America’s Routes website: www.americasroutes.com.
In 2020, the efforts of America’s Routes resulted in the road network being named to Preservation Virginia’s “Most Endangered Historic Sites” and being designated as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
The Rural Roads group has worked closely with VDOT for several years to encourage development of road surface material options that would require less maintenance, result in less material washing into ditches and waterways, and be able to withstand increasing traffic. In September of 2020, two tests of aggregate surface materials and installation techniques were placed in Loudoun, and exploration of additional surface materials specifically designed to meet the needs of Loudoun’s unpaved roads is ongoing.
As a result of Rural Road group actions, a professional engineering study of the extreme drainage issues faced on one road is being conducted by VDOT, with the expectation it will yield results that may solve drainage issues afflicting other unpaved roads in Loudoun. It is universally recognized that drainage issues undermine roads of all surface types. This study, combined with the research on surface materials, may provide key information that will enable VDOT to maintain our rural roads to meet their requirements for safety while also preserving their charming rural character.
Recent and ongoing activities:
The John G. Lewis Memorial Bridge, spanning Catoctin Creek on Featherbed Lane. The project group worked with local and state officials to ensure its renovation preserved the character of the 1889 single-span metal truss bridge [Image courtesy Catoctin Creek Scenic River Advisory Committee]The Rural Road group is continuing to monitor the progress of these two initiatives and working with VDOT, the County Transportation staff and the Board of Supervisors to prioritize funding of any projects relating to rural roads.
Among the broader goals for the Rural Roads group in coming months will be building a relationship with the VDOT team responsible for the care of bridges. The group intends to work more closely with County transportation staff since the County is taking increasing responsibility for local road projects.
America’s Routes will be working to develop an inventory of our historic roads and bridges. It will continue to produce the stories and photos that have become so popular on its website and social media, generate press coverage for road preservation, and hold outreach and fund-raising events.
Posts regarding this project group’s work and be seen here.