A sharing of viewpoints in a special meeting last Wednesday established that both Essex County and a privately owned business are interested in a shared entryway near a proposed bridge in Tappahannock.
On Jan. 30, county officials sat down with representatives from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the owners of June Parker Marina to clear up misunderstandings brought about by a breakdown in communications.
During the most recent board of supervisors meeting held Jan. 8, Project Manager Jason Williams said the Parkers had yet to sign a formal agreement regarding a shared entryway that would be built alongside the bridge that VDOT expects to begin building as early as Sept. 10.
The bridge will elevate a section of Route 17 outside the marina to ensure the road is a reliable evacuation route in the event of severe storms.
Williams’ concern at the time was whether or not the Parkers did not sign the agreement by mid-February, VDOT’s advertised time frame for moving utilities from the project site.
If they didn’t, the department would proceed with designs for individual entryways for both the marina and the County.
In response, Central District Supervisor Edwin “Bud” Smith said the Parkers were not being properly informed of VDOT’s plans with the entryway, which Nathan “Nate” Parker IV confirmed in a phone interview with the Northern Neck News.
But the special meeting between the three concerned groups was successful in bringing them into agreement, said Williams.
“I think all parties were satisfied with the result of the meeting and felt that communication was going in the right direction,” he said.
County Administrator Reese Peck, who attended the meeting on the County’s behalf along with Smith and Greater Tappahannock Supervisor and Chair Stanley Langford, agreed.
“There were questions on various design aspects that were clarified and all the parties agreed to the shared entrance approach,” said Peck, who called the shared entryway “the superior design.”
According to Williams, the county representatives reinforced the importance of the project not doing any harm to its citizens and the traveling public.
The Parkers, or Nate Parker and his father and owner of the marina, Nathan “Tri” Parker III, explained the economic benefit of their marina and the activity it brought to the town during its operations.
VDOT, represented by Williams, Assistant Residency Administrator Joyce McGowan and Land Acquisition Specialist John G. Sullivan, shared the current plans for the shared entrance with all parties at the meeting and established a schedule for negotiations as well as an offer package with both the Parkers and the county.
Following the meeting, VDOT met separately with the Parkers to discuss issues regarding communication problems with the right-of-way negotiations and the shared entrance process.
Williams said the next step for VDOT would be to provide a plat of the shared entrance to the attorneys for both the Parkers and the county to review and have both parties sign.
Negotiations for the coordination of the shared access agreement are expected by VDOT to begin as early as mid-February.