Streets in some of Northern Virginia’s aging neighborhoods are becoming marred with potholes, corroding asphalt and other problems that can make driving a headache, local officials say.
In Fairfax County, the state’s largest jurisdiction, state transportation officials estimate that nearly 80 percent of local streets are in “poor” or “very poor” condition, up from 70 percent in 2011. In Prince William County, the proportion of streets rated poor or very poor is climbing toward 70 percent.
Officials in Fairfax say the state should allocate more money to repairing streets in the county, which has dipped into its own funds in recent years to make repairs that it says Richmond should be financing.
“We have gotten ourselves in a position of having to do that because of the derelict actions on the part of the state,” said Fairfax Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee), whose district includes some of the county’s oldest neighborhoods and most problematic streets.
In 2014 and 2015, the county used about $360,000 of its funds to fill potholes and resurface asphalt on local roads. The state spent about $135 million in 2015 repaving Northern Virginia roads — but most of that money went to highway repairs.
Jennifer McCord, a spokeswoman with the Virginia Department of Transportation, said local streets in Northern Virginia will be a high priority this year, after a period in which the state concentrated more on upgrading highways and major avenues. The state has earmarked about $86 million for repaving neighborhood streets in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties this year.
Highways and major roads in the region “are at a place where they’ve improved,” McCord said. “Now, we’re focusing on the secondary roads with all our funding. We recognize that they are a problem, and we want to get to that.”
An estimated 40 percent of roads in Arlington County are in need of repaving, about on par with the state average. Arlington maintains its own roads and plans to spend about $12.7 million on repaving during the current fiscal year, which ends in July.
In Loudoun, which has many newer neighborhoods and subdivisions, the proportion of roads rated poor or very poor is about 28 percent.
On virginiaroads.org, a state website that provides details on road conditions and plans for repaving, large swaths of Fairfax are designated as having roads in poor or very poor condition.
State officials who monitor road conditions annually score their driveability on a scale of zero to 100. Streets deemed very poor generally have enough cracks, holes or bumps to record a score of 49 or below, officials said. Under state guidelines, roads that are poor score between 50 and 60 but are still considered “deficient” and in need of evaluation for repairs.
In Mount Vernon, Dean Lohmeyer’s block on Leo Lane is part of an area with several streets designated very poor. The roads are riddled with small cracks and a few potholes. Lohmeyer’s cul-de-sac street is fairly well paved but has a sinkhole in the middle of the road that has been there for at least two years.
“When you hit that hole, you hear this loud bang,” Lohmeyer said. “It doesn’t physically hurt, but it hurts you because you’re like: ‘Oh, what did I just do to my car?’ ”
In the Annandale area, a patch of road in front of Ashling Thurmond Osborne’s home on Fairland Street has worsened steadily. That block and most of the surrounding streets look as though they are crumbling, earning very poor designations from the state.
When Thurmond Osborne and her husband, Jonathan, moved in four years ago, the pavement problem in front of their house was fairly small and easy to ignore, she said. It is now a ditch that spans the width of two driveways, with dirt visible under the broken asphalt.
“This past summer, we were removing chunks of asphalt about the size of a dinner plate and just putting them in the trash,” Thurmond Osborne said.
“I know we have an aging infrastructure, and I know it costs a lot of money to fix,” she said. “But at the same time, roads are pretty basic.”