Greenlea Residents Push Plan For Bridge

By Jonathan Mummolo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 10, 2009

When coming and going from their homes in the past year, residents of the Greenlea community have been taking their chances.

They've been driving across Crooked Bridge, even though the structure was ravaged by flooding a year ago and has been labeled unsafe. The bridge connects about 50 residents to the rest of Loudoun County.

"We went through a portion of the summer where a lot of us were parking and walking up, across the bridge," resident Lori Latka said. "When it got cold and rainy, people just started driving across it. Our issue is, we can't get services . . . septic tanks pumped, propane delivery, fuel oil delivery. . . . It's really just been inconvenient."

Several options have been debated to address the damaged bridge, but more than 70 percent of residents in the community south of Leesburg have signed a petition in favor of establishing a special tax district to fund repairs.

Tomorrow a public input session will be held for Greenlea residents to weigh in on the idea in front of the county Board of Supervisors. The project is expected to cost about $400,000, officials said, and a Greenlea resident has offered to provide the financing, said John Sandy, assistant county administrator.

Under the plan, Greenlea residents would make twice-a-year payments for 15 years to the county, which in turn would make payments to the lender, Sandy said. If residents move away, the homeowners who replace them would have to make the payments, Sandy said. Loudoun residents outside Greenlea would not foot any of the bill, he said.

"It is viable, in my opinion," said Supervisor James Burton (I-Blue Ridge), whose district includes Greenlea. "Something clearly has to be done, because that bridge is in precarious condition."

A similar tax district exists in Aldie to pay for a sewage plant, Burton said.

After tomorrow's session, the board will decide whether to ask staff members to draft an ordinance authorizing the tax district. The ordinance would have to be advertised for a period of time, and the board could vote on approval sometime next month, barring any holdups, Sandy said. The tax district option for Greenlea was authorized by the General Assembly last summer.

Under the plan, most of the wooden bridge would be replaced by a concrete structure, Sandy said. It would lack the middle support of the current bridge, allowing debris to flow underneath more easily. It also would provide firetrucks and other emergency responders with better access to Greenlea.

Burton said he thinks there is strong support on the board to approve the district.

Supervisor Kelly Burk (D-Leesburg) said that if residents are willing to pay, she's all for it.

"If they want to do that, I think that's great," Burk said. "I think that's perfectly legitimate."

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