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Hillsboro Presses For Simultaneous Utility, Roadway Upgrades

© Leesburg Today - 05/27/2015

Hillsboro is one of the commonwealth's smallest incorporated towns, with around 100 residents. Although small in population, it's large in ambition and vision.

Recent moves by Loudoun County have aided the town in trying to find solutions to some of its most pressing needs-developing a utility system to serve the town and alleviating its traffic congestion.

The town is pressing for the three big projects-the Rt. 9 traffic calming project; a new well and water treatment plant; and development of a wastewater system and treatment plant-to occur simultaneously.

Finding the funding remains daunting.

Successive councils have wrestled with the problem of finding adequate and safe water supplies, a need accelerated by the Virginia Department of Health's mandate that the town cease reliance on water from the Hill Tom Brook as its supply. Since August 2000, the town has been on a state boil water notice. At the same time, the town has no central sewer system so residents rely on individual septic systems.

After years of false starts with wells that did not provide adequate supply, the town was able to find a good source of water and drill a reliable town well, aided by $1.145 million from the county government and a grant from the Virginia Department of Health.

The next step for the project, which is in the design phase, will be to acquire easements and develop the actual well source. Mayor Roger Vance said he is hopeful construction could commence in the spring or early summer next year.

The raw water line would pass under Rt. 9 to the existing treatment plant, before heading back through the town as treated water. The service road will require upgrading, and new water tanks will be installed at the plant.

The county previously funded study grants for both water and sewer and encouraged the town to pursue funding for a wastewater system.

The total cost of a centralized sewer system, including a treatment plant, would be around $5.7 million, Vance said. The line would pass under Rt. 9 and be located in front of each home.

The county has budgeted $2 million in FY16 to help with sewer line installation, based on the Loudoun Water study, Vance said. The town will apply for the remaining $3.7 million from the county's Water/Wastewater Fund that provides funding for unincorporated areas and smaller towns.

While the two utility projects are important, so is the road project, Vance said. Rt. 9 bisects the town and is heavily traveled by West Virginia commuters-carrying more than 15,000 vehicle trips per day.

The traffic-calming project, which includes roundabouts at each end of town, is expected to cost $16 million and has been awaiting Virginia Department of Transportation funding for six years.

Timing is everything, Vance said, stressing the need to link the two health-related utility projects with the road project.

""The real challenge is to get funding for the road so we can coordinate [all three projects],"" Vance said, adding it makes much more sense to only tear up the road once, which would save significant funds.

Recently, the mayor made a pitch to the Commonwealth Transportation Board to try to get the project moved up. From the beginning, the traffic-calming project included replacement of the town's water main in its scope, Vance noted.

""For many decades the unsafe conditions in Hillsboro were neglected and have grown significantly worse. Now we have an approved project that is ready to build, that can be completed in a relatively short time frame, and that will have an extraordinary impact,"" Vance said in a statement to the board.

Without that coordination, the town-and commuters-would face duplicating work, prolonged traffic disruption and additional costs, Vance said.

That's a tall order, but ""We just keep plugging away,"" the mayor said.

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