STRASBURG — The Gateway Trail Project to build a sidewalk along U.S. 11 north of town has begun, Town Manager Wyatt Pearson told attendees to a Town Council meeting on Tuesday.

Travelers will notice orange barrels lining the road this week, closing off the east-side shoulder and the left-hand turn lane going south. Pearson said the barrels are likely to remain there for the duration of the project, keeping the traffic pattern consistent, preventing the need for flagging, and helping workers with G.B. Foltz Contracting Inc. of Mount Jackson stay safe while they complete the trail.

“It should remain exactly as it is until the end of the project,” Pearson said.

Because of the positioning of the barrels on the hill coming into town, motorists may encounter stopped traffic waiting to turn left into the Food Lion parking lot. Town Councilman John Massoud said he’s heard from several residents concerned over the potential for vehicle accidents if people driving over the hill don’t see any stopped traffic until it’s too late.

He suggested the town install an electronic sign at the top of the hill warning travelers of the potential for stopped traffic. Pearson plans to contact the Virginia Department of Transportation for next steps in the matter.

Pearson is hopeful that the Gateway Trail Project will take five to six months to complete but said it might be done sooner.

Other updates at the brief meeting included reports from town staff and committee members.

Second half tax bills due on Dec. 5 are scheduled to go out to residents at the end of October, said Director of Finance Angela Fletcher.

The town is planning an in-person conflict of interest training for 11 a.m. Oct. 1, which Clerk of Council Amy Keller said was inspired by a training that Clarke County offered.

“From the sounds of it, it was actually much better than the online one,” she said.

Other nearby municipalities like Middletown, Stephens City, Winchester, Clarke County, Front Royal, Warren County, Luray-Page and Harrisonburg are invited to attend as well.

Vultures are back in town, and Police Chief Wayne Sager said he’s reached out to the Department of Agriculture and also working with the town to employ distraction devices.

“I know it’s frustrating for the residents,” he said. “They leave a lot of mess behind.”

Most of the birds are in the area of Colley Block Road and Capon Road.

In a public safety report, he said the Police Department responded to 746 calls for service in August. Of those, there were 42 adult arrests, one juvenile criminal charge and 53 traffic citations issued.

“Tourism continues to grow in our county,” said Economic Development and Marketing Manager Michelle Bixler.

Last month, the Visitor Center saw 687 visitors, or about 22 a day, Bixler said, which is on par with the last three years.

“We’re getting ready to put up a map in the Visitor Center so that people can pin where they’re coming from, because I just think that will be so impactful,” she said.

Last month’s visitors came from Virginia, 18 other states and the countries of Belgium, Canada, France, Germany and New Zealand.

The town has entered into an agreement with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation through the end of the year to keep the museum open at Hupp’s Hill, where the Visitor Center is located.

The Farmers Market will continue through September, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays at Strasburg Square.

Upcoming events include a town and county dinner in Edinburg on Oct. 2. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP to the town by Sept. 23 and then try to attend so food isn’t wasted.

The Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. on Sept. 24 with a public hearing on the Summit Crossing Preliminary Development Plan and make a recommendation to the Town Council.

The Architectural Review Board will meet in September, but the Board of Zoning Appeals will not.

The full council was present at the meeting, with Kim Bishop, Ken Cherrix, John Massoud, Taralyn Nicholson, Barbara Plitt, Emily Reynolds, Scott Terndrup, Jocelyn Vena and Mayor Richard Orndorff Jr.

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com