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Roundhouse bridge a key to growth, officials said

May 18, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Details of a pedestrian bridge linking the B&O Roundhouse with Caperton Train Station - considered a key project in the future growth of downtown Martinsburg - were released in an afternoon meeting of city officials Monday.

The bridge, which will allow pedestrians to cross railroad tracks near the station and reach the Roundhouse property, will cost between $700,000 and $800,000 to construct, said Matthew Grove of Grove & Dall'olio Architects, which is designing the building.

The bridge, which is being funded through a grant from the state Economic Development Grant Committee, should be completed by next July, he said.

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"We have an aggressive schedule," Grove told members of the train station committee in Martinsburg City Council Chambers. The committee is made up of council members.

The bridge is considered an integral part of Martinsburg's future considering the work under way at the B&O Roundhouse and the growth plans being developed for the downtown's business district, City Manager Mark Baldwin said.

Tourists who come to see the Roundhouse will be able to use the bridge to reach the train station and the downtown area, Baldwin said.

The Roundhouse is being renovated, which local officials hope will lead to increased tourism to the city and a boost to the area's economy.

Train bridges were constructed and locomotives were repaired at the Roundhouse.

The first Roundhouse was built at the site in 1854, but the complex was burned by Confederate troops in the Civil War in 1861. The Roundhouse that stands today was built in 1866. In addition to its Civil War history, the Roundhouse was around for other significant events, like a large railroad strike in 1877 in which workers protested wage cuts.

While the Roundhouse is being renovated, city officials also are exploring ways of improving the appearance of the downtown shopping area, studying streetscape designs for the area and other issues.

Those points were addressed in a comprehensive downtown plan which City Council members also discussed Monday.

The downtown plan said Martinsburg has great growth potential given a new arts center, a new judicial center and other projects that are either being planned or are under way downtown.

The pedestrian bridge will extend from the Caperton Train Station to a tower on the other side of the railroad tracks by the Roundhouse.

A sketch of the bridge distributed by Grove Monday shows windows in the covered pedestrian bridge and a curved support structure under it.

The first story of the tower by the Roundhouse will be built and then the bridge will be brought in, Grove said. The bridge will be built offsite and then "swung into place," Grove said.

A second level then will be added to the tower, Grove said.

The bridge will be 90 feet long. Inside, it will be 8 feet wide and 9 feet high, Grove said.

The windows in the bridge could be opened in the summer for cross ventilation.

Train station committee members said they were worried about excess heat building up in the enclosed area in the summer, and asked that Grove include an air conditioning and heating system in the design plan for the bridge.

Mike Covell, the city's planner and engineer, suggested a city logo be placed on the outside of the bridge which train riders will see as they approach the area.

"You're coming into the gateway of Martinsburg," Covell said.

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