Loudoun Co. looks for state aid in safety improvements on historic unpaved roads

Loudoun County, VIrginia has 300 miles of unpaved roads -- mostly in the western part of the county.(WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

If you’ve driven in Loudoun County, Virginia, you know some roads are partially unpaved — Loudoun lawmakers in Richmond want to make sure they remain asphalt-free, but safer.

Bills introduced by Democratic Sen. Russet Perry, Republican Del. Geary Higgins and Democratic Del. David Reid look to clarify state law to allow state funds to be used to maintain rural secondary roads without paving them.

Many people in the region don’t realize Loudoun County has 300 miles of unpaved roads until their car’s navigation system takes them from a busy commuter route onto an unexpected gravel road.

In 2020, Preservation Virginia — a privately-funded, statewide historical preservation group — added Loudoun County’s rural road network to its “2020 Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Places” list.

Travel on Loudoun County’s unpaved roads can include one-lane bridges, like this one near Unison, Va. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

The bills would allow local jurisdictions to become eligible for state highway construction funds, after conferring with VDOT about the county’s plans to make safety improvements to secondary highways that carry 50 vehicles or more per day.

The legislation would allow the county to use the money for road improvements, including drainage upgrades or tweaking the design of the unpaved road.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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