Drivers, beware: Upcoming construction projects are likely to make traffic in downtown Leesburg dicey in the months—and years—ahead.
Two major developments, along with two sidewalk capital projects, could create disruption for drivers and pedestrians alike as early as next year. That’s what Renee LaFollette, director of the town’s Public Works and Capital Projects Department, told Town Council members during a preview at their Monday night work session.
The Loudoun County Courthouse expansion project, between Market and Church streets, is expected to last two-and-a-half to three years, and the Board of Supervisors as early as next month is expected to award a construction contract. An archaeology study and demolition of houses along Edwards Ferry Road will occur first, by late this year or early 2020, LaFollette said.
Just down the road, construction of the Church & Market project, approved by the Town Council on Tuesday, will likely overlap with the courthouse project. LaFollette said she expects design plans to be submitted by the developer this fall, with approval to take 9-12 months before construction kicks off. The project proposes a 116-unit residential building with retail uses and an office component in the former Loudoun Times-Mirror building off Market Street.
Two sidewalk projects could also add to the chaos. The West Market Street sidewalk project will require a complete closure of Market Street between the west “Y” and Ayr Street for two-and-a-half months in summer 2020. The Edwards Ferry Road sidewalk project was recently accelerated a year ahead of schedule by the council and is now set for construction in spring 2021. A staff report notes that Edwards Ferry Road will be one of the haul routes for construction delivery to the courthouse project and will require critical communication and coordination between town and county staff members for their delivery schedules.
A large public education effort will be needed to inform motorists of traffic, road closure impacts and parking availability changes for any motorists traveling into or through downtown at the height of construction for the projects, LaFollette said. Councilman Tom Dunn emphasized that the town does not want to create a reason for visitors or residents to stop patronizing downtown businesses because of the disruptions.
Vice Mayor Marty Martinez wondered whether the upcoming construction projects and their resulting changes to the downtown landscape make for a good time to revisit past talks of restricting Loudoun and Market streets to one-way traffic.
“This is going to put a lot of added stress on the roads we have,” he said. “There’s been talk in the past of changing Market and Loudoun Streets to one way. The discussion now is there might be enough traffic on those roads to warrant it.”
LaFollette emphasized that any exploration of changing streets to allow for one-way-only traffic would require a traffic study.