Pedestrian Plaza Project Scaled Down To Stay On Budget
By Linda Farneth
The revised plans for the Colonial Ave Pedestrian Plaza have been reviewed and approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Due to the cost of the original design the plans had to be scaled back to remain within budget.
Now the Federal Department of Transportation must approve the plans and give authorization to the town to advertise for bids to complete the work.
The request for bids will be advertised for between 22 to 30 days, after which the town can choose a contractor to complete the work.
The town was awarded a $747,000 Revitalization Grant from Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development in 2015 to revitalize the South side of the Boardwalk and surrounding area. The project would provide facade improvement grants to businesses as well make improvements to the area stretching from Colonial Ave to Boundry and from Washington Ave to the Riverfront.
By Jan 2016 improvements were on schedule. At a Revitalization meeting on January 26 - 2016, Northern Neck Planning District Commission Executive Director, Jerry Davis reported that two of the six facade improvement projects were already under construction and one was complete.
Much of the boardwalk improvements and streetscape had already been completed or were underway.
Other improvements included instillation of new light poles and park benches, new trash cans and a bike rack.
On Taylor Street seven new ornamental street lamps and poles were installed. Electrical lines were buried underground.
A pedestrian plaza was created at the end of Hawthorne Street and traffic patterns were changed along Taylor Street and Beach Terrace. However, after several complaints from residents, the bollards were scaled back to allow traffic to flow through along the river toward the cannon and Taylor Street's two-way traffic pattern was restored.
Hawthorne street pedestrian plaza was originally not in the plans, but it was added in.
According to Murphy, the plaza was not in the original design. The original design called for extending the boardwalk all the way to the cannon area. That idea was abandoned due to all the work and infrastructure involved.
The parking area and Beach Terrace was resurfaced and a decorative treatment was installed at the pedestrian crosswalks at Washington and Hawthorne.
Colonial Ave Plaza Background:
Virginia Department of Transportation awarded the The Town of Colonial Beach a Transportation Alternative Project (TAP) Grant in the amount of $542,000 to install a pedestrian plaza at the end of Colonial Ave.
The Pedestrian Plaza will utilize a rarely used portion at the end of Colonial Ave.
The original design, inspired by the site's history as a steam boat landing, was planned to feature several amenities and was designed to serve as a gateway to the boardwalk from Colonial Ave.
It included providing landscaping, street furniture for seating and a splash pad for children and adults to enjoy during the summer months.
We spoke with Colonial Beach Public Works Director Rob Murphy, last week on June 5. He said the idea of a splash park was abandoned due to cost. The infrastructure needed to put in the plumbing and pipes for a splash park would have gone over budget. Obtaining permits for the water park also posed a challenge due to Chesapeake Bay Act regulations regarding the 100 foot buffer zone. Under the Chesapeake Bay Act strict regulations apply when disturbing any land with 100 feet of the Chesapeake Bay or any of its tributaries.
Also in the original plans was a foot washing station and a bike rack. Lighting and wayfaring signage and new trash receptacles were also planned.
Murphy said in our interview with him last week, the redesigned project will include repaving the section of the boardwalk from Colonial Ave to the Riverboat and reconstruction of the drainage system.
The plaza will be placed at the end of Colonial Ave. A seating area will be provided and the statues will be placed.
Murphy hopes after the construction (paid for by grant money) is complete, the town will be able to add in some of the original items such as showers or a foot washing station, however it is too early to tell if those improvements will be able to be funded.
The funding for the Colonial Ave Plaza is coming from a VDOT TAP grant. The town is responsible for paying a 20% match. The town hopes to utilize money left over from the DHCD grant to provide the 20% match.
The town had to extend the deadline for the VDOT grant. Murphy said, “We were supposed to have started construction by June 30th.” However several items have held up the start of construction including the redesign of the plaza to stay in budget.