Town talks sidewalk project, comprehensive plan

MOUNT JACKSON – Mount Jackson town officials decided to apply for funding through the Virginia Department of Transport this week to help curb new costs in its sidewalk project.

The project, which was approved in 2011, calls for more paved sidewalks with town limits along Main Street and extending out into the planned Route 11 bridge project.

Town Manager Kevin Fauber said Wednesday that he does not know right now how much the town will apply for, but noted that VDOT has requested some changes to the project’s design.

Fauber said that VDOT’s request “upped the engineering costs some” and included “some drainage issues on Conicville Boulevard. There had to be some design changes to putting a sidewalk across the railroad tracks.”

The project was initially approved with an estimated cost of around $400,000, which Fauber said will cover the first portion of the project along Main Street.

“The other part of this new funding … VDOT in 2018 is planning to replace a steel bridge, and we committed to extending the sidewalk,” Fauber said, noting that the extension would stretch from Triplett Tech to the new Route 11 bridge.

“Part of that new funding would pay for the construction of that section,” Fauber said.

Fauber said that he is expecting to have an estimate on the cost of the project as well as the new funding from VODT within the next two weeks. He noted that the town could proceed with the project in 2016 or 2017, once it hears back from VDOT.

“Obviously, we’re at a little better position, because a lot of the design work and engineering work has already been designed,” Fauber said.

The town will submit its application to VDOT in early November. Once the town receives word from VDOT, Fauber said that he expects construction bidding and work to “start pretty quickly.”

As the town moves forward with future development projects, it is looking into forming a focus group that would provide feedback for the finalization of its comprehensive plan.

Planning Commissioner Bonnie Good said, “At our last meeting, we went ahead and went through a fairly good list of folks that had either volunteered, been volunteered or had been requested by members of the Town Council.”

Good said that the town will put together a group that can encompass a wide variety of people from town residents, landowners and farmers to county representatives or residents.

“The whole focus group will be looking at all of the different elements that we’re going to be looking at with the plan, which would include … land use,” Good said.

Earlier this year, the town annexed 576 acres of land owned by town resident Robert Whitehurst – the entire 712-acre plot has been dubbed as a possible industrial “mega site.”

The recently annexed land is zoned for agriculture , but it can be rezoned and repurposed now that it is in the town’s possession.

“I’m delighted that it has been annexed into the town, only for the reason that it is meant to become a part of this town as the town grows,” Good said.

Good said the town is looking for a group of nine or 13 people to provide thoughts and feedback on the comprehensive plan.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com