Leaders see Route 11 trail proposal

Strasburg soon could soon provide a safer walking path along U.S. 11 from downtown to the Food Lion shopping center.

Town Council will consider the proposed design for the Gateway Trail project at its meeting next Tuesday.

Town Manager Judson Rex explained Tuesday that Strasburg and the Virginia Department of Transportation will split the cost of the project, including the design fees. Line+Grade’s proposed fee for its work of $119,964 falls within the project design budget of $120,000. The town’s current budget includes $60,000 to cover its share of the design cost. The estimated total cost of the construction is $1 million, but the actual price could change depending on the bids submitted. The town has already had some survey work performed for the project as well as a geotechnical study of the soils along the possible trail path.

Council on Monday saw a presentation by Line+Grade, a civil engineering firm based in Charlottesville. The company responded to the town’s request for proposals and Daniel Hyer, principal engineer with Line+Grade, gave the presentation to council. Hyer showed council, using three-dimensional mapping, how the trail would look in relation to the town’s topography.

“This project’s gonna do a lot for the town, to really kind of create that gateway element you all have talked about from coming in off [U.S.] Route 11,” Hyer said.

Pedestrians currently walk along the highway using dirt paths or in the road to go from downtown to the shopping center and further north on U.S. 11. Hyer pointed out the safety concerns he noticed along the makeshift path closer to downtown, including a storm drain that could pose a tripping hazard.

At a width of 31 linear feet in the area of the proposed project, U.S. 11 (Old Valley Pike) provides enough space for a trail on one side of the road, Hyer explained to council members. The town would not need to widen the road, nor make any changes to the slope near the adjacent mobile home park, to accommodate a trail. The design as presented also shows a new sidewalk set a foot away from the stone wall with trees buffering the trail from the road.

The trail would take on a different look further north from the end of the existing sidewalk as it extends along the highway past residential neighborhoods and then to the shopping center, with the addition of wayfinding signs and other features.

“This can really become a very rich and textured environment,” Hyer said. “There’s a lot to embrace, historical and culturally, along that corridor, so we would like to introduce those items as well.”

Most members of council voiced support for the project as proposed. Some had questions about details in the engineering firm’s proposal but in general supported the design as presented. Councilman Rich Orndorff Jr. served with Councilman Seth Newman on the committee that selected Line+Grade. Orndorff said the committee was impressed with the proposal.

“I thought … their approach was spot on,” Orndorff said. “I mean, we all agreed that the approach that they took regarding safety and looking at ways to protect the stone wall and such … Things that we didn’t think about.”

Information about the Gateway Trail project also can be found on the town’s website at  http://tiny.cc/vmk9px

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