8News Investigates: Who’s Responsible for Maintaining Rural Road - 8NEWS - WRIC | News Where You Live

8News Investigates: Who’s Responsible for Maintaining Rural Roads?

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LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)—Potholes have been a problem throughout Central Virginia in the wake of the recent snow, but some homeowners in Louisa County have been putting up with a bumpy ride for years.

Fed up, these residents turned to ABC 8 News for help. But what Anchor/Investigative Reporter Kerri O'Brien discovered serves as a warning for any potential homebuyer.

It's a rocky and rough ride along Jones Farm Road in Louisa County; part of the street is rippled with potholes. Gladys Jennings has lived on the road for nine years, and she's tired of it.

"One hole was so big, it was almost like a grave," she said. "At some time you can dodge some of the holes, but for the most part you got to hit some of them, and then that knocks your wheels out of alignment, and then that cost money."

Jennings and her neighbors have shelled out hundreds of dollars for car repairs.

The largest pothole on Jones Farm Road is approximately 10 feet wide and 3 inches deep, and it's filling with rainwater.

Jennings has written numerous letters to the Virginia Department of Transportation and Louisa County leaders.

"I haven't heard from anybody," she said. "No one takes responsibility. They just pass the buck and leave the road like it is."

ABC 8 News stepped in and discovered the Commonwealth's responsibility stops with a sign that reads, "End State Maintenance." Only the first half of the road is maintained by VDOT.

O'Brien dug deeper and learned that half of the road Jennings lives on is not Louisa County's responsibility either. So, who is supposed to maintain Jones Farm Road? It turns out the answer lies in the fine print of the property deeds.

Louisa County Supervisor Dan Byers said the land on which Jennings' home sits once belonged to the Jones family. They eventually divided up the property into several parcels and sold the land.

But the Joneses never paved the dirt road that runs in and out of the area. Instead, Jennings' property deeds clearly state, "the road will not be maintained by the State of Virginia, the County of Louisa or any public road agency," meaning it's up to the homeowners to maintain.

"The deed says it is a privately-maintained road," Byers said. "There will not be school bus service; there will not be postal service as well."

VDOT says this is common in rural parts of the state. In order for VDOT to start maintaining Jones Farm Road, it would first have to be widened to meet state standards.

"Also, you would have to have ditches put in the roads, pipes, proper drainage," Byers said.

The estimated cost is $175,000, a tab the homeowners would have to pick up. They would also have to agree to give up some of their land to widen the road.

"We do not have funds available to go in and develop private roads," Byers said.

While O'Brien's findings are disappointing to Jennings, they serve as a warning for others. Buyers, beware: make sure you ask your realtor who is responsible for the road in front of your home, and always read those property deeds before you sign anything.

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If you have a story for Anchor/Investigative Reporter Kerri O'Brien to look into, email her at KerriInvestigates@wric.com, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter (@Kerri8News).

 

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