Country Club Road Sidewalks Get Green Light

Posted: February 28, 2014

Children get off a city school bus at the entrance to Spotswood Mobile Home Park on Country Club Road on Thursday. Sidewalks would allow many students to walk to school. (Photo by Preston Knight / DN-R)

HARRISONBURG — For students in search of a safer way to walk to two Harrisonburg schools, City Council is on their side.

The panel approved a $90,000 sidewalk project this week to build a walkway from Spotswood Trailer Park on Country Club Road to Linda Lane, where it will connect to a multiuse path leading to Smithland Elementary and Skyline Middle schools. A signalized crosswalk would be installed at Country Club and Linda Lane, where a traffic light now exists.

The schools don’t have an estimate on how many students walk each day, but the practice is discouraged because of the lack of sidewalk along Country Club Road, said Nathan Barge, the Safe Routes to School coordinator for city schools.

That doesn’t mean the need isn’t there: About 120 school-age children live in the trailer park, he said.

“It’s a very valuable project,” Barge said.

The Harrisonburg Public Works Department is working on a timeline for when work will begin, city spokeswoman Mary-Hope Vass said.

City Manager Kurt Hodgen said the project’s scope is small enough that the city can afford it. But that does nothing to help one parent’s continued effort to get sidewalks constructed all along Country Club Road.

Katrina Gerald, who lives on Broadview Drive, presented City Council on Tuesday with a petition she says includes 600 signatures calling for a sidewalk from Vine Street to East Market Street, near Spotswood Country Club. She’s most troubled by people who walk on railroad tracks underneath the Interstate 81 overpass on Country Club Road.

The full build-out of Country Club Road — expansion of lanes and new sidewalk — would cost $12.1 million, Hodgen has said. But the city cannot solve the safety problem at the overpass without the Virginia Department of Transportation replacing the structure, and the state agency has said it has no plans for that at this time.

The city has included $7.2 million to widen Country Club from the overpass to East Market Street in its capital improvement plan, which is basically a placeholder for projects until money is available. The projected start time for that work is 2016.

“It’s unsafe and needs to be addressed before we have a fatality,” Gerald said Wednesday.

Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or pknight@dnronline.com



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