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Town looks to county to help ensure pedestrian safety

Posted on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 9:26 am

The push for more pedestrian-friendly streets in Warsaw continues with officials seeking a monetary grant to fund infrastructural improvements within the town.

On Oct. 3, Town Manager John Slusser spoke to the Warsaw Planning Commission about securing $211,157 in federal highway safety funds administered through the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Slusser called the application process highly competitive, adding that the chances of obtaining the grant are 50/50 at best.

Those chances, however could go up, according to Slusser, if Richmond County decides to endorse the town’s efforts, which would include the region in the grant application with no incurred expenses for taxpayers’ participation in the program.

“Multijurisdictional applications often enjoy higher rankings and generally more support in the selection process,” Slusser said in a letter to the Richmond County Administrator Morgan Quicke.

The grant, if awarded to the Town of Warsaw would aid the municipality in replacing existing walkways and adding new sidewalks along central town roads. The project would place new sidewalks along both sides of Rte. 360 from Main Street west to Morgan Lane as well as parts of both the west side of Main Street and Rte. 1004.

Charles Riedlinger, an engineer from Resources International, Ltd., cited safety concerns with both the width of current sidewalks and the power poles lodged in the middle of the walkways.

According to Riedlinger, the three-foot-wide sidewalks do not meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that sidewalks be five feet length.

Riedlinger added that large vehicle mirrors had smashed into the built-in power poles before.

Images taken by Riedlinger showed portions of the walkways merging into the road, the lack of separation between sidewalks and parking near the corner of Rte. 360 and Main Street and limited space between the power poles and the iron fence running along Rte. 360 west.

In addition to addressing safety issues, the sidewalk improvements are intended to improve conductivity between Food Lion and the Family Dollar being constructed at the corner of Court Circle and Rte. 360 for walkers, as well as their access to Rappahannock Community College and the Richmond County Public Library.

According to information from the town office, the proposed sidewalks would be five feet in width to accommodate wheelchairs.

Other project aims consist of moving the power poles out of and away from the sidewalks, obtaining easements from landowners in the areas to be affected and relocating the iron fence.

Project costs include $82,350 for improving Rte. 360 west, $55,500 for Rte. 360 east and $23,300 for Main Street. Construction costs for the following improvements will total $161,150 with a contingency of $16,115.

With the total project costing $813,157, total in-kind contributions are estimated at $602,000 including $587,000 from Dominion Virginia Power. The company is slated to move the poles out of the sidewalks without any additional cost to the town.

According to Slusser, the application for the funds is due Nov. 1.

“Hopefully we’ll be competitive and with any luck we will receive the grant,” said Slusser.

He added that support from landowners along Rte. 360 was essential to the improvements taking place.

“If they aren’t interested, it puts the project in jeopardy,” said Slusser.

There will be an “Open House” public informational meeting on Oct. 10 regarding the infrastructure proposals in town hall at 5 p.m. The session welcomes comments, concerns and questions from the public about the project.

The county will hear Slusser’s proposal, on behalf of the town, during the board’s regular meeting on Thursday, Oct. 10, 9 a.m. at the county meeting room adjacent to the sheriff’s office.