STRASBURG — The Town Council plans to vote at its Tuesday meeting to approve budget amendments for Phase II of the town’s Streetscape Project and the Gateway Trail Project.
The Streetscape Project includes improvements to downtown Strasburg. Phase II will concern improvements to King Street and Holliday Street — including new LED street light fixtures and crosswalks near the intersection of King and Massanutten streets.
The Gateway Trail will provide a sidewalk leading pedestrians from downtown Strasburg toward the Food Lion shopping center north of town.
At a Monday work session, council members discussed costs associated with Phase II and logistics for completing the Streetscape Project within a 180-day time window.
The council also discussed the upcoming 4th of July holiday and voted to give town employees an extra day off.
The total estimated cost of the Streetscape Phase II is $1,264,494, said Town Manager Wyatt Pearson.
The town’s share of that cost would be $252,898 because the Virginia Department of Transportation would be picking up $1,011,595.
An additional $37,102 would cover the cost of replacing high-pressure sodium street lamps with 21 new LED light fixtures to replace the current 15.
Pearson said using LED lights will maintain a uniform look for the downtown lighting and allow for the easy replacement of any broken fixtures, since high-pressure sodium lights are being phased out and might not be available when Phase III of the Streetscape project is bid.
He said the town plans to continue using yellow lights in the historic district but use brighter lights elsewhere.
The project would also add a crosswalk on Massanutten Street (U.S. 11) in front of the Strasburg Service Center.
Lantz Construction of Winchester was the lowest responsive and responsible bidder for the project at $1,175,700, according to a memorandum that Pearson provided to the council.
The estimated project cost of $1,264,494 includes contingency and construction administration costs.
The Gateway Trail Project will add a sidewalk along the east side of Massanutten Street, allowing pedestrians a safe way of walking to shops and other businesses north of town.
The sidewalk will start out as a 5-foot-wide walkway before becoming a meandering10-foot-wide pathway as it climbs the hill past Food Lion to end at City National Bank. The path will include crosswalks where it crosses side streets.
Referencing concerns he’s heard from residents about a lack of road space in front of the historic Hupp House, Pearson said that extra pavement across from the house, near the trailer park, will allow for restriping of the road to ease any space issues incurred by adding the 5-foot walkway.
Should any crosswalks be required for the planned Summit Crossing community across from the Food Lion shopping center, Pearson said community developer Pennoni Associates will pick up those costs.
The Gateway Trail Project has an estimated project cost of $1,147,371, with a town share of $629,934 and VDOT share of $517,437.
Pearson said discrepancies between the town and VDOT shares (which are part of a 50-50 grant program) occurred when the town had to borrow $275,000 from the project to fund the Queen Street Bridge project.
“Staff reapplied for additional funding, which covered the majority of the gap, and kept the town share equal to what our originally agreed upon contribution was,” Pearson wrote in a memorandum.
Edinburg contractor G.B. Foltz offered the lowest bid of $1,084,886. After removing landscaping, signage, benches and trashcans from this project, the town secured a final base bid of $1,010,310 before contingency and construction administrative costs.
The town is requesting a budget amendment of $630,000 for the project.
The council plans to vote Tuesday on the two budget amendments associated with commencing Phase II of the Streetscape Project and the Gateway Trail Project. The budget amendments will allow the town to begin the projects in the current fiscal year.
Pearson has a pre-construction meeting lined up with Lantz Construction on July 10 to draft construction schedules.
The council showed concern about how construction crews might maintain the schedule through the winter while also contending with school and other traffic along U.S. 11, an emergency route when accidents happen on Interstate 81.
Pearson said construction crews would have a plan for quickly filling in holes along the road and moving their equipment in a hurry if directed to reopen the road for emergency vehicles and other traffic.
Vice-Mayor Scott Terndrup also expressed concern for downtown businesses being accessible to shoppers between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
For many small business owners, he said, “That’s their make-it-or-break-it moment.”
Phase II of the Streetscape Project will begin with the intersection of King and Holliday streets. Pearson said he hopes that part will be complete before school begins on Aug. 5.
“A project of this length, there’s no great time to start it,” he said.
Also at the session, council approved the closing of town offices this Friday for an extended Independence Day weekend.
“We would only be considering this year,” Pearson said. “All the other towns in Shenandoah County have already elected to … close for that day.”
The county will remain open that day, he said.
Because July 4th is Thursday, the town’s Recreation, Parks and Trails committee that normally meets on the first Thursday of the month will instead meet at 7 p.m. Monday.
The approaching four-day weekend also sparked discussion of holiday pay for town employees required to work on Thursday or Friday.
The Strasburg Police Department estimates paying three officers time and a half pay to work each day at an estimated total additional pay of $2,000 to $3,000, according to Chief Wayne Sager.
Most town employees will have the two-day holiday off. Those required to work or come in for an emergency will receive time and a half pay if they were supposed to have the day as a holiday.