Christiansburg considering new alternative transportation projects

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By Marty Gordon

Christiansburg leaders have submitted funding requests for three alternative transportation projects: Wades Lane/Betty Drive pedestrian improvements, sidewalks along North Franklin Street and an extension of the Huckleberry trail from North Franklin Street into Cambria.

Town engineer Wayne Nelson said all three are critical components as the community continues to expand the trail system.

The Wades Lane and Betty Drive project and the Franklin Street sidewalk project are both in cooperation with Christiansburg Elementary and Primary schools and the “Safe Routes to School” effort. At a cost of $1 million, it would build a sidewalk from Wade’s Lane to North Franklin Street. A multi-use asphalt trail would be aligned with Betty Drive and stretch for 0.4 miles. The funding would include 80 percent from the federal program ($800,000) and a 20 percent match from the town of $200,000.

The North Franklin project would include sidewalks and curb and gutter at a cost of $1.6 million and would run from Elm Street to Mill Lane for approximately 0.5 miles. Potential funding would again be an 80/20 match with $1.28 coming from federal funding.

Nelson said the sidewalks are a missing link in connecting the trail to both Depot Park and the planned Cambria trail area. “This will allow us to cross North Franklin to Mill Lane, traversing down to the planned Amtrak station and of course to the aquatics center and through the skate park to Depot,” he said.

The third project is the expansion of the trail from the aquatics center through the proposed area of a future Amtrak station.

Nelson said this will be a multi-use asphalt trail stretching from Mill Lane to Cambria Square (0.6 miles) and will include another 80/20 funding match.

“We have been very lucky in the past to gain these types of funding, and I am optimistic about all three of these projects,” he said.

The Cambria Trail project is listed as the Huckleberry Phase 4 and has been a dream of local leaders for several years. With it, the trail would extend from the Christiansburg Aquatics Center to the Jefferson National Forest in Blacksburg.

Funding applications are slated to be submitted to the state by October with a possible announcement by early 2020. If they are approved, construction could begin within the next two years.

Similar funding is paying for a trail extension from the Oaktree townhome area through the back of the Christiansburg High School property to the intersection of North Franklin and Independence Blvd. This project is scheduled to be completed by October.