Making The Connection
After 25 Years, Second Stage Of Erickson-Stone Spring Project Opens
Posted: December 14, 2012
HARRISONBURG — City officials opened the second of four segments of the Erickson Avenue-Stone Spring Road connector Thursday morning, inching the full project closer to the finish line 25 years after its origin.
The new section runs between South Main Street, just south of Pleasant Hill Road, and the original Stone Spring Road, near Beery Road.
A traffic light at South Main Street and Stone Spring Road went into operation shortly after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday. Another signal will go in at the intersection of Stone Spring and Beery roads in February.
Pleasant Hill Road is now closed to through traffic from South Main Street to Beery Road.
Part of the reason for the connector is to ease congestion at Pleasant Hill Road and Huffman Street, near the light at Pleasant Hill and South Main, said Jim Baker, director of the Harrisonburg Public Works Department.
“It’s been a real bottleneck for us for many, many years,” he said.
The area of the new section is projected to see 10,900 cars per day this year, Baker said. By 2030, the number is expected to be up to 15,000.
The connector also will help east-to-west movement from Main Street to Port Republic Road at Rockingham Memorial Hospital, Baker said. The project is part of a broader, roughly six-mile southeast connector that includes RMH and Rockingham County.
Perry Engineering Co. is the contractor for Erickson-Stone Spring. The one-mile second phase, which included two new bridges, cost $28.3 million, including engineering and acquiring rights of way.
The city’s commitment is about $16.1 million.
The new road also contains bicycle lanes and sidewalks. Officials highlight the fact that it bisects the planned Bluestone Trail, a 2½-mile path between Ramblewood Park and James Madison University’s entrance at Port Republic Road.
Long Time Coming
During the ceremony Thursday, former City Manager Roger Baker’s role in the project was lauded.
Baker, who attended the event, started to plan the connector in 1987. He said the original timeline was to complete it in about 15 years, but the city met delays as more environmental studies were needed.
The connector is moving forward now, though, and Perry Engineering finished the second phase four months ahead of schedule.
Drew Williams, assistant director of public works, said the connector is likely the most important city transportation project since the construction of Cantrell Avenue in the 1960s.
Officials opened the first phase in August 2010. It widened Erickson Avenue at the intersection with South High Street.
The first segment also relocated Pear Street and removed a train trestle that had limited traffic to one vehicle at a time at the intersection of Pear and Erickson.
Construction of the first phase cost the city $4.8 million.
The $5.1 million third phase, which will be covered by state funding, should be finished next summer and will connect South Main to Erickson at Pear Street.
A fourth and final piece has yet to be designed, but it is estimated to cost $8 million. It will widen Erickson from South High Street to the western city limits near Garbers Church Road.
From 3:45 to 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors will hold an information session on the preliminary design for the last section of its piece of the connector. That segment will run from a new intersection of Stone Spring Road at Reservoir Street, near RMH, to U.S. 33 near Boyers Road.
At 6 p.m., the board will receive public comment and consider a formal $9.7 million contract with Southeast Connector LLC, which consists largely of Blackwell Engineering and A&J Excavation, both based in Harrisonburg.
The meetings will be at the Rockingham County Administration Center on East Gay Street in Harrisonburg.
Contractors could break ground in the spring and finish the project toward the end of 2014.
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or email@example.com