Strasburg set to unveil streetscape

Town plans ribbon-cutting ceremony for first phase of enhancement project

By Alex Bridges

Strasburg plans to celebrate the completion of the first phase of its downtown streetscape project Friday.

Downtown Coordinator Felicia Hart said Wednesday the event includes a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the streetscape. Police will need to stop traffic on King Street long enough to let town leaders cut the ribbon.

The town plans to close Fort Street from King to Queen streets from noon to about 8 p.m. Friday. The event begins at 5 p.m. and features games, a moon bounce and cotton candy as well as prize giveaways for kids and adults. The Strasburg High School marching band also plans to perform. Morehead’s will offer food at the event site and nearby eateries such as the Hi-Neighbor Restaurant and Cristina’s Cafe also have been asked to participate, Hart said.

“We’re hoping we’ll have a nice crowd,” Hart said.

The town sent invitations in recently mailed utility bills. The event has been promoted on Strasburg’s website and Facebook pages and by the local Chamber of Commerce. Hart said she handed invitations to business owners along King Street.

Town Manager Judson Rex said the streetscape enhancement work along King Street, from Capon Street to Holliday Street, is nearly complete. Lantz Construction of Winchester still has to install fencing near Capon Street, Rex said. The Virginia Department of Transportation required that the town install fence panels along the sidewalk by the bridge across from Handymart. This was one of several unexpected requirements by VDOT, referred to as change orders that amounted to about $100,000 in additional costs.

Hometown Strasburg came up with the idea years ago to apply for funding to pursue the enhancement project. With the money collected, the town then hired Gay & Neel Inc., of Christiansburg, in spring 2009 to design the project.

Improvements included new streetlights, sidewalks, traffic calming “bump-outs,” crosswalks, handicapped-accessibility ramps, trees and signs as well as paving.

The first two phases cost $1.5 million, with the VDOT paying $1.2 million, or 80 percent, through its enhancement program. The town covered the remaining $300,000 as the required match.

Prior to work on the surface improvements, the town replaced water and sewer lines along King Street at a cost of $420,000. Lantz Construction began its work on the streetscape project in February, but snowstorms slowed their progress until April.

The next phase of the streetscape project covers King Street from Holliday Street to Massanutten Street. Town officials hope to begin construction on the phase in late summer or early fall 2015, Rex said. The town has enough money lined up to cover about half the cost of the next phase but officials plan to apply for additional funding in November, Rex said.

Strasburg employee John Fontana helped the town gain a bird’s-eye view of the finished product. Fontana flew his remote-controlled drone over King Street and recorded video along the streetscape path last week.

“I just thought that everything looked great; they did a really good job,” Fontana said. “One of the funny things, just from flying higher, even the rooftops looked good.”

Rex saw videos he took with the drone and asked him to record one for the streetscape project, Fontana said.

“It seems like there’s a lot of potential to use drones for a lot of good,” Fontana said. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people out there that are careless with them and do stupid stuff with them, but I’m trying to be one of those people who can use it in a helpful way.”

Visit www.strasburgva.com for more information about the streetscape event and to watch Fontana’s video.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com