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Bike path won't connect to Oatesdale Park

June 05, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- A bike path to be built along with the Raleigh Street Extension in Martinsburg will not connect to nearby Oatesdale Park, according to City Engineer Michael Covell.

A connection from the park to the 8-foot-wide path could be engineered, but it might require a bridge to be built over Tuscarora Creek, Covell said.

The new north-south route for U.S. 11 in the city between Edwin Miller Boulevard and Race Street will be elevated over railroad tracks and Tuscarora Creek, making a direct connection difficult, Covell said last week.

The bike path will be separated from the new road by a 3-foot grass strip, except when the new road crosses bridges, where it will continue on an 8-foot shoulder, according to West Virginia Division of Highways engineer Gregory Akers.

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The bike path will be built from Race Street to Forbes Drive, according to Akers. Covell said a sidewalk will be built on the side of the Raleigh Street Extension.

To accommodate the new road, two ball fields at Oatesdale Park are expected to switch places, Covell said.

Because it is smaller, a T-ball field will switch places with a Little League field, putting the T-ball field closer to the new, controlled-access road, Covell said.

Pro Contracting Inc., the apparent low bidder among nine contractors that submitted bids for the work, could be awarded the contract in a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Department of Transportation spokesman Brent Walker said.

The Clarksburg, W.Va., company's bid was $4,542,454.

"Everything suggests they're within our estimates, and we're anxious to move forward," Walker said.

The contract entails building a four-lane road between the intersection of U.S. 11 and W.Va. 9 (Edwin Miller Boulevard) and one-fourth of a mile north of the extension's new intersection with Tavern Road, Walker said. A one-span bridge also is part of the contract.

Covell said the Raleigh Street Extension project will include lighting only at intersections. The project design anticipates lighting being added along the corridor in the future, Covell said.

Work also is under way to extend the pedestrian-friendly design of the Raleigh Street extension onto Forbes Drive and Lutz Avenue, according to Covell and developers involved in the city's Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district project.

In May, Martinsburg City Council authorized a $3.1 million bond issue, with the money to be used for utility and road improvements, including the connection of Forbes Drive to Lutz Avenue.

Property taxes collected in the district are being used to pay off the bond issue.

Meridian developer Tom Burke said the 60-foot right-of-way upgrade of Forbes Drive/Lutz Avenue will be built to DOH standards and "our goal is to make it pedestrian-friendly." Burke said he anticipated the right of way would be able to accommodate bikes as well.

The additional pedestrian routes are being hailed by advocates of bike and pedestrian trail networks in the Eastern Panhandle.

Bill Yearout of Eastern Panhandle Trailblazers Inc. called the Raleigh Street Extension bike path a "giant step forward."

The fledgling organization is working on a trail mapping project and one of the group's goals is to close gaps in a trail under development between Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry that taps into the new bike path along the new route for W.Va. 9, Yearout said.

In Berkeley County, gaps being eyed by the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board are from the W.Va. 9 trail's eastern terminus near Eastern Regional Trail to Berkeley Heights Elementary School and then to P.O. Faulkner Park in Martinsburg, according to Parks & Recreation Board executive director R. Stephen "Steve" Catlett.

Efforts to continue the trail from P.O. Faulkner through the city gained momentum last year when the Wegenast Brewery property along Tuscarora Creek near the historic B&O Roundhouse property was donated to the recreation board.

The property was deeded to the city in December and Catlett said the recreation board is waiting to receive permission from the State Historic Preservation Office to demolish and remove a blighted house from the property.

Union Civil War general and future President Rutherford B. Hayes was said to have spent several days at the house in July 1864, while he was ill, according to historical acounts.

More information about the Eastern Panhandle Trailblazers and the Parks & Recreation Board is on the Internet at http://www.eptb.info and http://www.mbcparks-rec.org/

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