Country Club Fix Faces Hurdles

Overpass, Train Tracks, Cost Pose Problems For Sidewalk Addition

Posted: October 9, 2013

Cars travel past the railroad crossing along with a bicyclist on Country Club Road during the summer. Harrisonburg City Council heard a report Tuesday that making safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists along the street would be costly and difficult. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
HARRISONBURG — With an Interstate 81 overpass and Norfolk Southern railroad to deal with, bicycle and pedestrian improvements along the full stretch of Country Club Road will be hard to come by.
 
City Council members know this, but they now have a better grasp of how much their options will cost.
 
City Manager Kurt Hodgen presented a pair of possibilities, plus preliminary cost estimates, on Tuesday for adding sidewalks on the south side of Country Club Road from Blue Ridge Drive west to the Spotswood Trailer Park.
 
Katrina Gerald, who lives in the nearby Reherd Acres neighborhood, urged the city in August to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety along Country Club, especially underneath the overpass. She said the lack of sidewalks or a path leads pedestrians — in many cases, children heading to schools on Linda Lane — to walk along the train tracks.
 
In one sidewalk option, Country Club is fully built out just as the city has outlined in its capital improvement plan, adding a multiuse path while converting the road into three lanes, including a center-turn lane.
 
The plan, referred to as the CIP, is a wish list of capital projects that are funded as money becomes available. The Country Club Road expansion has been assigned the lowest of three priority levels in the plan.
 
The full buildout would cost $12.1 million, but is full of contingencies, including coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation on working around the I-81 bridge piers and Norfolk Southern for railroad right of way, Hodgen said.
 
An alternative would construct only a temporary concrete sidewalk, for $1.6 million. But staff does not recommend it because Country Club Road handles 11,000 vehicles a day, including many large service trucks, making such a walkway dangerous, especially at the overpass.
 
“There really is no way to convey folks safely from one side of the bridge to the other,” Hodgen said.
 
Funding is also a question mark, but in the case of the sidewalk, a revenue-sharing grant through VDOT could be applied for and split costs between the city and state.
 
Council appears heading to review the priority assigned to improving Country Club when the next CIP update is conducted in December.
 
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or pknight@dnronline.com



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