Victoria streetscape project moves forward

Published 11:03 am Thursday, February 11, 2016

The second phase of Victoria’s downtown streetscape improvements is expected to begin in the next few months.

The town will essentially see improvements along Main Street between 7th and 5th streets that will be similar to those done at Main Street between 8th and 7th streets, and 7th Street between Main Street and the Victoria Railroad Park during the first phase.

Completed in 2013, the first phase featured construction of the pedestrian plaza on Main and 8th streets, improved sidewalks, installation of decorative street lights, crosswalks and trash cans. The work on the second phase is expected to be completed in 2016.

Like the first phase, the second will include new and replacement of sidewalks and curbs and gutters, pavers, landscaping,

crosswalks; more ornamental lighting; and site furnishings such as benches, bicycle racks, trash receptacles.

The contract for the project has already been awarded, but a preconstruction meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 18, to hash out details and make sure everyone is on the same page.

“Hopefully sometime in March construction will actually start,” said Todd Fortune, with the Commonwealth Regional Council — known as the CRC — and the project manager. At the town council’s request, the CRC secured much of the funds for the improvements.

The project has been a major undertaking for the town, improving the appeal and appearance of Victoria and tying downtown to the 21-acre Victoria Railroad Park that is a nod to the community’s roots as a railroad town.

Victoria was the halfway point of a Virginian Railway passenger line that ran between Roanoke and the port town of Norfolk, and the park is founded on a former train maintenance yard and features a bright red caboose built in the 1950s.

The park offers picnic pavilions, restrooms, playground equipment, a volleyball court and horseshoe pits. A short rail-trail runs through the park and offers access to the much longer Tobacco Heritage Trail, which courses throughout southern Virginia.

Victoria’s entire streetscape project will cost a total of approximately $1.3 million, with 80 percent of the financing coming from federal funds and the town responsible for the other 20 percent.

This second phase will cover Main Street from the end of the new sidewalk near Benchmark Community Bank to the curve, Court Street between the light and the new sidewalk at the bridge, Main between 7th and 6th, and part of 6th.

Victoria is not the only locality in the area taking advantage of the enhancement funds.

Dillwyn is in the fifth phase of its streetscape project that similar to that of Victoria and has been going on since 2003, and Buckingham County is replacing sidewalks in the Buckingham Court House Village, Fortune said.

“These are huge projects,” said Mary Hickman, executive director of the regional council. “They’ve all been (done) in phases … These are long-term projects.”

Years ago, Amelia and Prince Edward counties also took advantage of these federal programs to make enhancements, as did Kenbridge.

Hickman said the federal enhancement funds have served the region well.

“It’s definitely been a program as you go through the region (that) the region has successfully been able to utilize it,” Hickman said.