Wanted: A safer Healy’s Road
|Healy’s Road (Route 619), which connects Stormont Road (Route 629) and Route 33 at Locust Hill, has no lane markings, speed limit and other safety signs, and is narrow with limited shoulders. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)|
by Larry S. Chowning
Numerous residents who live on State Route 619 (Healy’s Road) near Locust Hill voiced concerns over the road’s safety at a Middlesex County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.
Route 619 is a narrow, unmarked road that runs between Route 629 (Stormont Road) and Route 33 at Locust Hill.
Also, Philpott Road runs off Route 619 to Middlesex Elementary School and St. Clare Walker Middle School. Philpott Road is also narrow and unmarked.
For the last several months, Lewis C. Briggs Jr. and Purnell Woods, who live on Healy’s Road, have attended board meetings cautioning supervisors that the road presents a safety hazard and is in desperate need of repairs.
Last week, a serious accident occurred on the road when two vehicles hit head-on.
Briggs told supervisors on Tuesday that Healy’s Road needs a “total facelift,” and it should be included in the county’s six-year secondary highway improvement plan.
Briggs said Healy’s Road has carried much more traffic since 2006 when a portion of Stormont Road at Healy’s Mill Pond was closed by VDOT officials.
Briggs and Woods both emphasized that Healy’s Road does not have speed-limit signs and other adequate signage. They also contended the width of the road is not adequate at some places for two cars to pass safely.
School bus stops also are a safety issue, noted Briggs.
Woods contended supervisors should have considered improving Healy’s Road years ago when funds were available.
Resident Highway Engineer Marcie Parker said Middlesex only receives $200,000 annually toward upgrading secondary roads. Because of inflation and funding for other roads already in the county plan, it will take years before Healy’s Road can be completely reworked.
Parker indicated she is working with other VDOT officials concerning signs and speed limits on Healy’s Road.
The closed portion of Stormont Road crosses the dam at Healy’s Mill Pond. The dam is damaged and has been declared unsafe by VDOT. This caused VDOT to close this portion of Stormont Road in 2006.
There has been an ongoing tug-of-war between the county, VDOT and pond owner Gene Ruark regarding who is responsible for fixing the dam, which would allow the road to be repaired and possibly re-opened. However, this situation is currently at a stalemate.
VDOT plans to build a bridge over the pond some day, which should allow this portion of Stormont Road to re-open and ease some of the traffic burden on Healy’s Road.