WEST JEFFERSON —Construction for the long awaited expansion of downtown West Jefferson’s streetscape project could start as early as March of this year thanks to additional state funding.
N.C. Rep. Jonathan Jordan appeared before the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen Monday night to announce that $130,000 in state contingency funds will be allocated to the town for the project.
The town originally intended to complete the project much sooner but ran into delays after all the firms that bid on the project’s construction came back with over budget cost estimates.
The project extension will replace the current signal light at the intersection of South Jefferson Avenue and East Second Street with four-way stop signs. Sidewalks would also be added in front of the lower buildings located on East Second Street which are difficult for pedestrians to reach.
According to West Jefferson Town Manager Brantley Price, the total cost of the project extension comes in around $439,000.
The town already has $250,000 in federal highway funding in addition to the $130,000 contingency funds but they will still need to contribute around $58,000 from their own pockets.
Mike Norris, an engineer with North Carolina Department Of Transportation, gave aldermen an update and overview of the streetscape project on Monday.
“I do think this has been a very successful project with the previous projects that have been implemented and the partnership with DOT,” Norris said. “I think it has provided a much safer area within our downtown.”
According to Norris, bids for the project opened last Thursday with Little Mountain Builders coming in with the lowest bid at $306,000.
Norris also explained that several optional alternates would be available including $27,000 for brick pavers, another $84,000 to create bump-outs and options for pedestrian lighting.
How far it’s come
The West Jefferson Streetscape project first kicked off in 2011 with the removal of two signal lights which were replaced with four-way stop signs.
According to North Carolina Department of Transportation Completestreets, the improvements not only enhanced pedestrian safety, but resulted in $13,800 in yearly division savings in maintenance costs alone.
The project, primarily funded by the NCDOT and Appalachian Health Department, continued with the addition of diagonal parking, curb extensions, street crossings and street furniture.
Recent statistics reported that the project helped reduce accidents by 24 percent, one reason the town wants to extend the project.
West Jefferson was recognized in the national publication, Roads and Bridges, which detailed the design and success of the West Jefferson Streetscape project in its August edition.
West Jefferson was also recognized by the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-NC) with their “The Great Main Street 2015 Award.”
According to Norris, construction for the streetscape expansion is set to begin in March or April of this year and will be a 90 day project.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.