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Strasburg approves funds for work on town enhancement

By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- ewilkerson@nvdaily.com

Aaron Mullins rides his bike
Aaron Mullins, 12, rides his bike along East King Street in Strasburg recently. The town has approved funds for a downtown enhancement project. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG -- The Town Council has unanimously approved a proposal for survey, design and environmental services work for Strasburg's downtown enhancement project.

The services outlined in the proposal, which was provided by Gay and Neel Inc., of Christiansburg, cost $176,600, according to information from the town. Federal transportation grants will pay for 80 percent of the enhancement project, so the town will be responsible for only about $35,320 of the services' cost.

So far, the town has been awarded about $366,000 in grants through the Virginia Department of Transportation, said Carla Wallen, president of Hometown Strasburg Inc., a local affiliate of Virginia's Main Street program. Hometown Strasburg applied for the grants, Wallen said, and will apply for more funding this year.

At a meeting late last month, several council members suggested tying other projects, such as infrastructure improvements, in with the enhancement work so the town could avoid tearing up the street multiple times.

Councilman Scott Terndrup said the engineering phase will be complete by the end of 2010 and construction could begin in 2011, when Strasburg will celebrate its 250th birthday. Town planner Judson Rex said the work will be done in phases, so the town can decide what it wants done in 2011.

"I'd hate to see us not do anything" in 2011, he said.

The council approved the proposal July 28 subject to the pre-award audit to be conducted by VDOT. Once the review, which will take about 60 days, is complete, the town can sign on with the firm and get started, Rex said in an earlier interview.

"We're hoping a little bit of progress can be made before [the] Dec. 1 [grant application deadline] on the design so VDOT can see that we're moving ahead steadily," he said.

The enhancement project would encompass both sides of King Street from Capon Street to the railroad tracks, he said. The proposed work includes new sidewalks, curbs, gutters, street trees and lighting, he said, and some pedestrian amenities, such as benches, likely will be added along the sidewalks.

New ramps at the intersections, which will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, also will be included in the project, he said.

"And the last thing is, we're pursuing putting some sort of bike/car sharing lane or striping along King Street so that we can have a little safer area for bikes to move across U.S. 11 there," he said.

The whole project could cost about $2 million, Rex said, though that amount may change, "depending on the price of materials and what we end up designing."

Once the consultant is signed on, he said, the town likely will have a meeting where residents can share their thoughts on the project.

"I'm hoping this is going to be a project that we can really heavily involve the public in, especially when we get working on the design," he said.

Wallen said she's excited the project is moving forward.

"It seems like we're really beginning now and it's going to come true one day," she said.

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