‘Every announcement is followed by crickets: no backhoes, no bulldozers, no excavators — not even a human being’

Take this newspaper’s word for it, writers have grown as frustrated as readers when it comes to the construction of a new Washington Post Office. 

Week after week, month after month, comes the much-anticipated word that ground will soon be broken for the long-awaited postal building on Warren Avenue. 

Yet every announcement is followed by crickets: no backhoes, no bulldozers, no excavators — not even a human being.

Hoping to break the monotony, frustrated town fathers last month picked up their own shovels to turn the undisturbed earth. It didn’t help.

Fingered culprits, meanwhile, have proven difficult to keep track of but stretch from Rappahannock County to the US Army Corps of Engineers to the headquarters of the US Postal Service.

Most recently, VDOT is the rumored hurdle that is delaying progress.

“The issue is not VDOT,” Washington Mayor Fred Catlin insisted this week. 

“There have been a number of various issues that are present, but none of the state or local agencies have been a major hindrance,” Catlin told the News. “Like all the other state and local agencies, VDOT has been working really hard to make this all work. 

“Like every state and local agency involved in a building project however, there is a process that must be followed for the sake of everyone’s protection. As all of us lose our vast store of patience over the length of time this project has taken, each new step seems long and unendurable.”

To set the record straight, the mayor said nothing to date has held up the construction project more than a small patch of federally protected wetland found along Warren Avenue.

“The greatest impediment both in terms of cost overruns and time delay was the necessary process of submitting to the US Army Corps of Engineers plans for approval for addressing the tiny piece of wetlands on the property,” Catlin recalled. 

“I’m told the US Army Corps of Engineers received the application and proposed site plan for the post office in the middle of the fall of 2019 and did not approve the final version until late April of 2020 — a period of over six months! 

“Since then, the builder has been following through with the necessary applications with state and local officials. That process has been carried out and, for the most part, completed. The final step is to get approval from the USPS for the costs of the final plan.”

There is no guessing by Catlin when that might come — the mayor all but finished crying wolf.

“We have been working diligently to address every issue that has come up in what should have been a simple process,” he said. “However, as many people know, building processes are never easy. I am as frustrated as every patron of the 22747 zip code with the long process, with the absence of a blue mailbox in the Town of Washington during the interim, and the constant trips to the overburdened Sperryville Post Office. 

“I am grateful for everyone’s patience as we work to bring this wretchedly long process to a successful conclusion as quickly as we can.”

Click here to sign up for the C-19 Daily Update, a free newsletter delivered to your email inbox every morning.