Sidewalk project stalls

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Officials involved with the 2,100-foot walkway project along Evergreen Road on Route 40, leading to Randolph-Henry High School, are looking into a prescriptive easement in the area of the project and the possibility of going under construction in the near future.

Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) Planner Andre Gilliam said during a CRC meeting July 18 that representatives of CRC and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials met at the beginning of July to discuss the prescriptive easement within the project area.

A prescriptive easement is a piece of land that runs through a public area and is typically considered for public use unless the owner of the property objects. “When a way has been worked by road officials as a public road and is used by the public as such, proof of these facts shall be prima facie evidence that the same is a public road,” Section 33.1-184 of the state code of Virginia cites in relation to prescriptive easements.

“VDOT has (a) 30 ft. prescriptive easement through the area for highway maintenance,” VDOT representative Paula Jones said in an email. “The sidewalk cannot be built within this easement.” The sidewalk project is being conducted by engineering firm A. Morton Thomas (AMT).

Engineers hoped they could stick with the project schedule, according to Gilliam, which was to have the project receive federal approval in July, and possibly go under construction after.

“Right now, we’re sort of in a holding pattern,” Gilliam said during the meeting, “and those goals and objectives are probably going to be compromised, so the project could be pushed further into the future.”

“The construction is not underway and until all donated easements are received, we cannot proceed with requests for federal authorization,” Jones said. “Therefore, no time frame is currently available.”