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Washed-out road a hindrance

October 6, 2011 12:15 am

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VDOT crews work to repair a section of Windsor Drive in Spotsylvania County that was washed out last month.

BY SCOTT SHENK

BY SCOTT SHENK

A month has passed since remnants of Tropical Storm Lee soaked the region, causing widespread flooding and road closures.

For many, the week of constant, heavy rains is nothing more than a memory.

But some Spotsylvania County residents have a constant reminder of those storms--a gaping gully across Windsor Drive, one of two streets that feed three neighborhoods off Leavells Road.

In all likelihood, Windsor Drive will stay closed for another two months.

As it has with numerous other roads in its 14-county district that were washed out in September, the Virginia Department of Transportation has inspected and shored up the collapsed section of Windsor Drive and is waiting for the materials to arrive before workers can start fixing the road.

In the meantime, residents of Windsor Place, Surry Woods and Huntington Meadows have been using Loriella Park Drive to get to and from their homes. The road runs parallel to Windsor Drive, with a wooded area separating them.

While the road closure is a minor inconvenience to those who live in the neighborhoods, at least one family is concerned about what would happen should that one open road collapse, too.

Last Thursday, John Gilbert, who has an implanted defibrillator with a pacemaker, suffered a medical scare and his wife, Inez, took him to the hospital.

He stayed overnight but went home Friday.

The episode concerned Inez Gilbert. She wondered how they would have gotten out if Loriella Park Drive had somehow collapsed.

She was doubly concerned because as VDOT crews were working on Windsor Drive last month, a worker told her that Loriella Park Drive was also at risk of washing out.

"He said that it was in very bad shape, too, and might collapse," Inez Gilbert said this week.

The stream that washed out Windsor also runs beneath Loriella Park Drive.

VDOT workers assessed the road after Windsor Drive collapsed and found no imminent problems, spokeswoman Kelly Hannon said.

"They found no reason to close the road, no reason for emergency repair," she said. "It's safe for travel. People should feel very safe crossing it."

She added that VDOT plans to replace the corrugated metal pipe that runs beneath Loriella Park Drive.

A similar pipe ran beneath Windsor Drive, according to Hannon. The soil in that area of Spotsylvania is highly acidic and can cause such pipes to deteriorate, she added.

While it seems clear the heavy rains caused the stream to swell and led to the Windsor Drive washout, VDOT engineers aren't sure if the 96-inch metal pipe was deteriorated. There are no inspection records of it or Loriella Park Drive. Both pipes were installed in 1986 when the roads were built.

VDOT plans to conduct annual or semi-annual inspections of both roads from this point on.

To be safe, VDOT is putting together a plan for an emergency entrance/exit to the neighborhoods while Windsor Drive is rebuilt.

VDOT crews probably will begin preliminary work on the road next week.

A new 10- by 8-foot concrete box culvert should arrive the week of Oct. 17, which will allow crews to start rebuilding the road.

The work should be completed by Dec. 1.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436
Email: sshenk@freelancestar.com





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