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Town split over Queen Street project

By Amber Marra - amarra@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- Conflicting views were expressed when Queen Street residents stepped forward to voice their opinions on a proposed project at a Town Council infrastructure committee meeting Tuesday night.

The intention of Tuesday's meeting was to allow residents to let the committee know their feelings on the impact the project will have on the street, as well as learn more about four proposed design options set before the council and the Virginia Department of Transportation. The project consists of replacing a bridge over Town Run, placing sidewalks on either side of the road, and remedying drainage issues.

One design option, created by Randy Kepler, of 220 S. Massanutten St., was of particular interest, as some residents were enamored by the addition of bump-outs along the road, creating a more narrow traffic corridor and, in theory, slowing vehicles.

"These choke points automatically slow down traffic, and that's especially important at the Massanutten Street intersection that's already not the best for vision," said Leon Smith, of 267 S. Holliday St.

The bump-outs were an irritation for other residents, specifically Raymond Willis, of 214 E. Queen St., who strongly opposed the parking limitations they would impose.

"The issue of speed came late in this discussion; no one has any statistics on speeding on Queen Street," Willis said. "Once you set up bump-outs, it eliminates any flexibility in parking whatsoever unless the town comes in and knocks out some bump-outs at some point."

But like Smith, others talked about past improvements that widened Strasburg's roads, including part of Queen Street.

"If I had to trade off between parking and speed, I would go with [reducing] speed," said Dan Kitzmiller, of 187 S. Massanutten St. "When [west] Queen Street was widened it became a raceway ... people come plowing down there pretty fast."

At one point, Kepler stepped forward to defend his design and to explain that, as a resident of Queen Street and a former Strasburg planning commissioner, he meant the best with his design for his neighbors and the rest of the community.

"I don't see any problems with parking where it's going to be a continuous fiasco," he said.

One resident who has been especially vocal about the impact the Queen Street project, Leslie Meaux, of 184 S. Massanutten St., was not at Tuesday's meeting, but did tell acting Town Manager Judson Rex to make it clear that she was in favor of Kepler's design because of the lessened impact to her historic property.

Eventually, infrastructure Chairman Bob Baker said that the council and committee had "beat this horse to death" and would most likely communicate the views of the residents to VDOT to combine both Kepler's design with another option that would keep the bump-outs in front of Meaux's property, but lessen the impact on parking on the rest of the street.

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