Town evaluating paving options

Published 11:23 am Wednesday, December 13, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The Smithfield Town Council passed a resolution Dec. 5 allowing VDOT funds to be used for maintaining a large swath of Main Street. That would include using state funds to pave it with asphalt, a material VDOT considers “standard,” said Smithfield Town Engineer Wayne Griffin.

If the town paves the street with a more visually appealing, but non-standard, surface over the asphalt, that portion would have to be paid for by the town, said Griffin.

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The street is currently paved with a non-standard material, round brown pea gravel. The granite curbs along a portion of Main Street are also not considered standard by VDOT, Griffin said.

Smithfield 2020 member Rick Bodson said emphatically Thursday, “There will not be asphalt on the road (Main Street),” during an informational meeting on Columbia Gas’ project to replace gas lines beginning in January. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The town is down to two paving options — the current surface (round brown pea gravel) or pavers, Bodson said.

Pavers could be pulled up to allow future work, but they are expensive, said Bodson.

A discussion on paving options will be discussed at a future Smithfield Town Council committee meeting.

The VDOT resolution puts the portion of Main Street, from South Church Street to just before the intersection of Grace Street, in the state system so VDOT funds can be used for maintenance, Griffin said.

Public Works Committee Chairman Mike Smith said the town is interested in the VDOT resolution if only to have that paving option, as it wouldn’t cost the town anything to cover Main Street in asphalt.

Last year the surface of Main Street was disrupted when water lines were replaced. The street is set to undergo another upheaval as Columbia Gas begins replacing its lines in January. The result has been a patchwork of asphalt over the existing earth-tone pea gravel. The Smithfield Town Council is anxious to have the gas line work finished and the street repaved by the beginning of summer, as downtown has become a popular tourist destination.

The existing pea gravel was laid when the town went through its revitalization in the 1990s. It was selected to resemble Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg.

However, the VDOT funding portion of Main Street maintenance won’t begin until July 1, Griffin said.  {/mprestriction}