Officials with Linco, Inc., the Lyndhurst-based construction company that will do the streetscape project along Crozet Avenue in downtown Crozet, joined Albemarle County officials at a meeting in the Western Albemarle High School cafeteria Dec. 3 to lay out the construction timetable to affected business owners and residents.
Construction is expected to start Jan. 6 said Brian McPeters of Kimley-Horn Associates, the civil engineering firm that designed the project. The project, which was launched in 2007, involved easements with 28 property owners and aims to install a storm water system for the street and result in better pedestrian connections in the downtown. Paver crosswalks, storm drains, streetlights and wide sidewalks will be added as well as left-turn lanes at intersections. No bike lines will be added because there is no room for them, McPeters said. The noble white oak tree near B&B Cleaners will come down.
According to Virginia Department of Transportation rules, the contract cannot be awarded to Linco until the utilities in the right-of-way are removed. That was expected to be happening now, but has not started. County facilities director Trevor Henry said that he still expects the contract to be awarded this month. Linco will have nine months to finish the job and faces penalties for failing to complete it on time.
Henry introduced county project manager Frank Pohl, who will likely work out of the lower level of Crozet Library temporarily to monitor the work. AMT (A. Morton Thomas Associates, Inc.) of Staunton will also provide construction management, according to VDOT rules.
Construction will start south of Tabor street and proceed along the east side toward The Square in four stages McPeters called “blocks,” each taken to a stage of essential completion—“95 percent done,” all except for the final asphalt layer—before the next stage is begun.
The east side of Crozet Avenue will be complete in June and the same procedure should result in the west side being done in August. One lane will always be passable. McPeters said that, so far, the intersection of Crozet Avenue and Jarmans Gap Road does not meet VDOT warrants for installing a traffic light.
When the job is done the stop line will be moved forward to improve sightlines and the turn radius at the Crozet United Methodist Church corner will be modified. He said the last traffic count done in downtown that he is aware of is from 2010.
“There will be pain,” admitted McPeters, but officials are determined to mitigate the inconvenience the project may cause. Linco is doing a similar project in Harrisonburg now, and has done others similar to it, and is aware of the type of problems that arise. Linco cannot work in the right-of-way except between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
County spokewoman Lee Catlin said a webpage devoted to the project is being set on the county’s website to keep information current and accessible, and emails with the latest updates will also be sent to those who sign up for them.
Linco has asked to temporarily close Tabor Street for two weeks to install drains and excavate in order to flatten the junction of Tabor and Crozet Avenue. Traffic from the neighborhoods around Crozet Park would be detoured down High Street, through the lumberyard and into The Square. VDOT has not approved the detour and it would also have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. If the detour is not approved, the work on Tabor will take six weeks and traffic will be managed by flagmen. The street would be open at night and on weekends in either case.
McPeters said the alley along Crozet Hardware does not meet VDOT requirements for a detour and will not be used, not officially at least.
Crozet Hardware owner Rick Ruscher expressed concern over the detour plan as complicating the already tricky problem of backing out of parking places in The Square.
Catlin urged Crozet residents to show solidarity with local businesses and not avoid them because of inconveniences caused by the work.
She said the county will hold a groundbreaking event for the project sometime in January.