As reported in the June newsletter, a stop work order was issued to Washington Gas when it was learned that it was not adhering to its permit for the work that its contractor was doing on Georgetown Pike between Stephanie Circle and Ellsworth Avenue.
GFCA is particularly concerned about the damage that was done to the roadbed given that Georgetown Pike is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and disturbance of the roadbed has the potential for harming this historic resource.
In addition to reviewing the engineering and design plans for the project before resuming any work, VDOT also called in its archaeologist to assess the road, develop requirements for addressing the damage that occurred, and set out procedures for future utility installations for review by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) in Richmond.
On Monday, June 6, seven borings were done in advance of the joint field inspection of the site by representatives from VDOT, Washington Gas and others. Since GFCA wasn’t allowed to participate in the field inspection because of safety considerations and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, GFCA requested a meeting with VDOT’s archaeologist after the inspection to discuss his preliminary findings and ideas for mitigation.
Following this meeting, a letter was sent by GFCA to the archaeologist to ensure that he, as well as DHR and other VDOT staff who would be reviewing his report, understood that: (i) the Pike ‘s historic significance is based on its status as an engineered and constructed structure that remains in its original alignment on the original roadbed, (ii) how the road was constructed varied depending on the conditions of where it was located and funding, and (iii) what was observed in the boring pits during the field inspection is as historically significant as other locations on the Pike where the engineering is more complex.
VDOT’s archaeological report, received on June 14, acknowledged the historical significance of Georgetown Pike and its importance to the community. It also stipulated four requirements:
1. Washington Gas Company must relocate the utility line to the location that was noted on the plans submitted with their Land Use Permit, off of the existing Georgetown Pike roadway.
2. The abandoned trench must be restored utilizing VDOT’s open cut pavement restoration requirements to ensure that no additional damage occurs to the roadway, however replacing the same soil that was originally excavated from the trench is not possible.
3. Any future utility installation that is proposed to be installed within the existing Georgetown Pike must be installed utilizing directional boring to avoid potentially important road foundation deposits.
4. For future permitted projects that will directly impact the Georgetown Pike roadway and that require a Land Use Permit from VDOT, that agency (or the permittee) will provide a notification as a courtesy to the GFCA withing 72-hours of the planned beginning of the project.
While concurring with the first three requirements, GFCA advised VDOT that the fourth requirement was problematic as more notice should be given in advance of any project which may impact the historic Georgetown Pike. VDOT’s response to GFCA’s letter on the issue, as well as a date for repairing the roadbed, are pending.