Eight years ago Scott County Schools began building the two million dollar Scott County Sports Complex, and today the facility remains off limits because of an unsolved access road issue.
When the project was approved by the school board over eight years ago, the Virginia Department of Transportation(VDOT) had plans to make an access road. Those plans fell through and now the concern is the dangerous access off highway 23, a one lane road that leads cars under a rail road trestle.
The school board was supposed to come up with an approved proposal for a safe access road to the facility in order to have VDOT lift the trespassing signs.
Del. Terry Kilgore(R), District 1, says he has worked with the school board and town leaders to come up with a solution for years.
In 2016, we asked Delegate Kilgore where the project stands.
“My goal is to have this done as soon as possible,” Kilgore said. “Oh yeah by spring. We want them to use that facility.”
Currently, there is no approved concrete plan to create safe access.
“I’m hoping its Spring of 2019 or at least Summer of 2019, if we can get everybody going,” Kilgore said.
On the other hand, Scott County Schools Superintendent John Ferguson says there is no timeline on this plan.
“We have not requested any bids at all,” Ferguson said. “Once the access issue if it’s ever taken care of, then we can move forward. But again it comes down to access and safe access….”
Scott County Schools Superintendent John Ferguson says he does not feel comfortable sending busses underneath the railroad trestle and through the one lane road. He says he has talked to school board members about this project privately, but it was not been formally addressed at school board meetings in a while.
The main issue is the cost to build the access road. The school board has already spend $2 million dollars on an incomplete sports complex. It would cost about $1 million to build a safe access road. Once the trespassing signs are lifted, the sports complex will need another $600,000 to finish the track, create a parking lot and complete other details within the complex.
“There are several options that have been considered, and all of them are fairly expensive,” said David Redwine, County Supervisor. “As you know, the longer you go the more expensive each of them gets. You’re talking for any of those options to get in there one million or more dollars.”
County leaders just want a decision on whether or not the sports complex will ever be open.
“There comes a point in time where you have to decide, do we want to put more money into it and make it happen or lose everything we have already invested,” Redwine said. “And it’s getting to that point its been sitting there for way too long, and I think at some point you have to make a decision to make it happen or quit talking about it.”
The Virginia Department of Transportation’s full statement on the Scott County Sports Complex:
VDOT continues to work with the Town of Gate City, Scott County and the Scott County School Board to explore options for access to the sport complex. At this time, VDOT has funding for a small maintenance project on state-maintained Filter Plant Road that would assist the town, county and school board should they pursue a private-owned road solution to connect to Filter Plant Road.
Additionally, VDOT has a funded project to make improvements at the intersection of Route 23/58 and Filter Plant Road that will improve safety for motorists at the intersection. The project includes improving drainage, adding turn lanes, constructing a park and ride facility and improving safety by closing 6 crossovers along Route 23/58. This project is valued at approximately $7.1 million and is scheduled to be advertised for bids in summer 2020.