A key artery into downtown Leesburg will close next summer to accommodate a sidewalk improvement project.
The Town Council on Monday night received a briefing on the West Market Street sidewalk project, planned to go to construction next summer. The 1,100-foot section of sidewalk runs between Morven Park Road and Ayr Street, and is in need of an upgrade to meet ADA requirements and address safety concerns.
Project Manager Anne Geiger said the town staff looked at two design options for the project, one that would involve lowering the sidewalk to be level with the road and the other that would raise the road up to the level of the sidewalk. The latter option was determined to have the least impact to the wall structures along that section of West Market Street, which have been determined to be historically significant, and was also favored by nearby residents during community meetings on the project last summer. As a bonus, Geiger said raising the road to meet the sidewalk would also improve sight distance in the area. The new sidewalk will be brick since it falls within the Old & Historic District.
The downside of this alternative, however, is that it will require closing that stretch of West Market Street for approximately two-and-a-half months. Geiger said the staff is planning to have this closure occur during summer 2020 to avoid school traffic. All cars will be diverted onto Loudoun Street during this time. Closing the road could also shorten the construction timeline of the project by one to two months, since construction operations could take place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The road would continue to be accessible for the street’s residents and for emergency operations, Geiger said. While the road would be closed for two-and-a-half months, the length of the entire construction project is pegged at nine to 10 months.
Council members said they recognize that the road closure would pose an inconvenience for residents and commuters, but did not object to staff’s plan.
“It’s a dangerous sidewalk on a very busy road,” Mayor Kelly Burk said. “I know we’re going to really inconvenience people for two months to block this road to make this happen, but it’s a sidewalk that warrants this.”
The total cost for the project is just shy of $1.7 million.