Fifteen years of planning finally put Hillsboro Mayor Roger Vance at a table this week to put pen to paper and sign a $14.33 million contract for the Rt. 9 Traffic Calming project.
Vance sat down in the Old Stone School on Monday evening to sign the construction contract with Archer Western Corp., alongside Vice Mayor Amy Marasco, Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), VDOT representatives and Volkert project planners. Now that a deal has been solidified, Archer will begin building a roundabout at each end of town, installing sidewalks and burying utility lines by January. The project will take 12-14 months to complete and will see a half-mile stretch of Rt. 9 in town closed entirely to through traffic at times. The project is being funded with county, regional and state money.
After playing a Johnny Cash recording of “I Won’t Back Down”—a nod to the town leaders’ refusal to give into doubt surrounding the project and drop it altogether—Vance thanked the town staff, the town engineers and about 25 residents and business owners gathered at the Old Stone School for the patience they exhibited while the town planned the project throughout the past decade and, especially during past four months as they worked to lower the project’s cost.
Marasco told the residents they are always the Town Council’s primary focus and that she was proud to finally be delivering the project to them.
“We addressed everything that we could address and I think we should be proud of that,” she said. “It takes a town.”
Buffington commended the project as being important to the local area, the county and the regional economy. He said it had been a pleasure and easy for him to support the project because he has been following Vance’s and Marasco’s lead. “Everything always works out when we’re dealing with Hillsboro,” he said.
The contract signing marks the beginning of a new relationship between the town and Archer, but the end of a four-month-long process in which town leaders worked around the clock to reduce construction costs after receiving three project bids that the town was financially unable to pursue.
In August, those bids came in at $19.95 million, $20.82 million and $24.99 million. Vance and Marasco’s team ultimately found that by closing the highway in its entirety through town for longer periods, the construction time and cost would be greatly reduced.
A project rebid in October turned up three new, and much lower, proposed costs—$22.48 million, $18.29 million and Archer’s $14.33 million.
While the contract signing is good news all around in the town hall, many area residents are still concerned about the road project—specifically the detours they’ll be forced to use once Rt. 9 through town is closed for construction. Not only are they frustrated about extended travel times, but they’re also concerned that heavy commuter traffic from West Virginia might use Loudoun’s rural roads to navigate around the town.
“It’s going to be worth it, just bear with us for 14 months longer,” said Volkert Project Manager Matt Weaver. “The crown jewel of this part of Loudoun County is going to be at your front door.”
Archer is expected to present the town with a construction schedule before Christmas.