WEST JEFFERSON-The downtown streetscape revitalization earned high praise Tuesday following a nationwide contest hosted by Strong Towns.
The non-profit announced West Jefferson’s downtown revitalization as the winner of its Strongest Infrastructure Project on Nov. 1.
“As part of our conversation on infrastructure spending and the infrastructure crisis, we’re highlighting good infrastructure spending decisions – the ones that truly provide a return on investment, the ones that genuinely make their neighborhoods better and take public ideas into account,” according to Strong Towns website.
The contest considered entries from everything from bike share programs to bus stops and public parks from 25 states and Canada. West Jefferson’s streetscape project was one of five finalists, competing against entries from Fargo, ND, a mixed use development in Worchester, MA, the Frederick Douglass Stride Toward Freedom Garden in Brockton, MA, and the Modesto Junior College Campus Connection in Modesto, CA.
Strong Towns opened online voting for the award in late October and said West Jefferson tallied more votes than the other four projects.
“At Strong Towns, we believe that a nation full of towns that take on small, incremental projects to improve their neighborhoods is a much better model than a nation where the federal government goes trillions of dollars in debt in the hopes of growing the economy through megaprojects,” The redesign in West Jefferson is a superb example of this.”
The project was a collaboration between West Jefferson, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Appalachian District Health Department to transform the city’s downtown street into an eye-catching pedestrian friendly hub.
Beginning in 2011, NCDOT funded a $208,000 small construction project for roadway improvements in exchange for the removal of the traffic signals, and the Town contributed $140,000 for sidewalk and streetscape improvements. Brick pavers, underground utilities, and landscaping were incorporated over the next two summers.
The project included paved crosswalks with curb extensions along Jefferson Avenue, underground utilities, street furniture, landscaping, pedestrian friendly street lighting and modified intersections along North Jefferson Avenue.
The end result is a downtown that’s simple for pedestrians and drivers alike to negotiate and easy on the eyes to boot.
The revitalization has received a bevy of accolades and attention in recent months.
The project was showcased in the national publication, Roads and Bridges, in a six-page report in its August 2015, edition. The trade magazine has been published for 108 years and reaches over 62,000 subscribers monthly through its print edition and over 55,000 people through online subscribers that receive weekly E-Newsletters. Roads and Bridges shows engineers, contractors and government officials the latest advancements in the road and bridge industry.
The October 2015 issue of Governing – a magazine aimed at elected, appointed and career officials in state and local governments with a circulation of roughly 85,000, similarly featured the project, and NPR’s Marketplace Weekend highlighted it as part of its “Local Money” segment in December 2015.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.