By Alex Bridges
New Market residents and visitors should see changes to their downtown next month.
Town Manager Evan Vass said Wednesday he expects crews to reach substantial completion on the second and last phase of New Market's Streetscape project in about three weeks. The final completion date depends on when the contractor satisfies the town and Virginia Department of Transportation's "punch list" items.
Phase II calls for improvements on Congress Street that extend from the first stage of the project. Crews finished approximately 60 percent of the second phase of the project this week. Workers were installing curb and gutters along the east side of the southern portion of the project, Vass explained. The southern section covers South Congress Street (U.S. 11) from Lee Street to Stuart Street. The other block of Congress Street in the project covers Seminary Lane to Breckinridge Lane.
"The objective is to beautify and enhance the downtown business corridor and residential corridor," Vass said. "It's something both residents and visitors can be proud of."
LINCO Inc., of Waynesboro, is the general contractor on the project.
A total of four linear blocks have undergone some alteration associated with the streetscape project. The town has replaced sidewalks and curb and gutter, installed new, historic-themed streetlamps and plantings on three of the four blocks. The project calls for landscaping and lighting for the northernmost section of Congress Street from Breckingridge to Seminary as well as some minor modifications to the sidewalk, Vass explained.
Crews working on the second phase also have been pulling up sidewalk bricks in front of the historic Calvert House at 9485 S. Congress St. The bricks were made in New Market during the construction of the home in the early 1800s, according to the town newsletter. Crews plan to re-lay the historic bricks per the project specifications to increase sidewalk safety.
The second phase costs $514,000. A federal enhancement grant administered through the state covers 80 percent of the cost, leaving the town to pay the remaining 20 percent, according to Vass. The first phase cost $1.2 million and included the same funding sources, Vass explained.
Mother nature often controlled the work schedule.
"[The] temperature needs to be at 40 degrees or above for concrete to be poured and so we've had several weeks where we've struggled with temperatures and/or rain," Vass said.
Forecasts call for inclement weather at the end of this week.
"I think if the weather is cooperative, we're probably two to three weeks away," Vass added. "That's a big assumption that the weather's going to cooperate."
The first phase covered two blocks in the core of downtown - Lee Street north to the intersection of Old Cross Road, then from Old Cross Road to Seminary Lane. The phase included new sidewalks, curb and gutters, landscaping, trees, lighting and street furniture. The phase also included the replacement of the traffic signal at Congress and Old Cross Road that comprised a significant portion of the cost for the section.
Projects like this can create issues regardless of when construction occurs.
"I think any time you do a public works project of this magnitude in the historic downtown business corridor it's an interruption," Vass said. "We acknowledge that so I don't think there's any particularly good time to do it.
"We've enjoyed a lot of cooperation from our downtown residents and business owners," Vass added. "We appreciate that and I think the finished product will be something we'll all be proud of."
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org