Trail project draws interest

A few Strasburg residents shared their thoughts this week on a proposed trail along U.S. 11 to Food Lion.

Representatives from Charlottesville-based Line+Grade presented conceptual drawings at a design forum of what the Gateway Trail might look like, Town Manager Jay McKinley said Friday.

“Before they start into design, they want to present concepts to make sure that the town and residents are happy with what we’re seeing,” McKinley said. “That way they don’t have to do rework once they get into design.”

The Gateway Trail is planned as a pedestrian-bicyclist path that will connect the commercial area around the U.S. 11 (Old Valley Pike) interchange near Interstate 81 to the downtown area. Funding will determine if the town can build the entire trail or just the first section from downtown to the shopping center, then construct the rest of the project in a second phase.

About a half-dozen people participated in the design meeting along with most members of Town Council.

“It wasn’t a very large group, but they were a very active group,” McKinley recalled. “They were very involved.”

No one at the meeting voiced opposition to the trail concept, McKinley said. Some people expressed concern about safety with regards to where the trail crosses the entrance to the Food Lion shopping center. Motor vehicle crashes have occurred at the intersection, McKinley noted. Officials and the design firm are considering moving the trail crossing away from the entrance and closer to Food Lion in the right-of-way.

The town and the firm plan to have another design meeting in a month or two. McKinley said he estimates the design would be complete by December. The town then would seek bids from construction companies to build the trail.

Construction could begin in the next fiscal year, McKinley said.

“That’s entirely up to council,” McKinley said. “When they decide to fund it is up to them and we’re actually in discussions with council now about that.

“My feeling is that they want to move forward on it sooner than later,” McKinley added.

The trail is proposed to start out as a 5-foot-wide sidewalk and then transition to an 8-foot-wide, multi-use, asphalt path. The larger portion of the trail will be a 10-foot-wide asphalt path. The sidewalk will have the curb and gutter as required by Virginia Department of Transportation standards. McKinley said the conceptual drawings show limestone walls along parts of the wider, asphalt trail, as well as landscaping and trees.

Sidewalks and trails also must not exceed certain slope measurements. Despite the steepness of the hill along U.S. 11 near the Food Lion, the slope falls within the requirement, McKinley said.

Initially, town officials saw the area in front of Hupp’s Mansion on U.S. 11 as a potential hurdle for the project because they didn’t know if Strasburg could obtain enough space along the road to install a 5-foot-wide sidewalk. Line+Grade determined the road is wider than necessary and, as such, the town can use some of the space for the sidewalk by shifting the lanes. The project also will not interfere with the historic stone wall by the mansion.

Strasburg and the Virginia Department of Transportation will split the cost to design and build the project. Town Council awarded the contract to Line+Grade last year to design the project for $120,000. This year’s budget includes the town’s share of the design cost.

Early estimates put the cost at about $1 million with the town spending half. The exact cost will be known once the town collects bids for the project. McKinley said as the design firm continues its work on the project it will fine tune the cost estimates.

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