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Boulevard Enhancements

Aesthetic and economic benefits slated for road.

Plans to replace a water main on Sterling Boulevard will provide economic and aesthetic benefits in addition to reliable water service.

Officials met last week to present new details about the Loudoun County Sanitation Authority’s plan to substitute a 40-year-old water main with one about twice its size. The $7 million project will take about four years to complete. Construction is slated to begin late this year or early 2006.

Sam Villegas, communications manager, said the authority surveyed both sides of the road this summer. It determined that during the first phase contractors will only have to open up the service road on the right side of the boulevard from Route 7 to Holly Avenue. It is on the same side of the road as Laurel Avenue, which leads to Park View High School. Construction will be limited to periods of low traffic flow and coordinated with school openings and closings.

“The only place we might be in the actual boulevard is at intersections,” she said.

That decision means construction will generate less traffic congestion than originally predicted, she said. “For those folks on the service road, they will see a little bit of inconvenience,” she said. But the authority would limit road work to 100 feet or less in a day, which would disrupt only one or two homeowners during that period. Only one lane in the service road would be closed at a time, she said. “VDOT does not allow disruptions.”

Workers also will refill any holes it digs during the day, rather than put steel plates over them at night.

Developers who pay to hook onto the water system would finance the project; residents only pay to maintain operations.

THE NEW WATER MAIN will be 19,000 feet long, 24 inches in diameter, replacing water mains 12 inches and 16 inches in diameter. The larger one is needed to meet Sterling’s growing population, officials said.

Replacing the pipes presents an opportunity for a technology company to install broadband, fiber-optic cables or wireless mesh networks for residential and commercial high-speed Internet access. Villegas said the decision rests with county officials and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The Board of Supervisors has approved hiring a director of broadband services to facilitate the development, planning and implementation of commercial broadband communication services within the county.

Brian Chavis, president of ARGoup, a technology company, is chairman of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s technology committee, which has served as an advocate of broadband infrastructure. High-speed Internet access would bring new business to the area, he said. The new position would more than pay for itself.

“One of the reasons we wanted a county position is we’re all volunteers,” he said. “We don’t have the time and resources to take on such an effort.”

Sharon Hawkins, marketing director of OpenBand of Sterling, attended last week’s meeting. “Obviously, any time the ground is open, you consider it as an opportunity to reach customers who have not been wired,” she said Monday. “Anyone who is a broadband provider would have some interest in it. We would like to serve more of Loudoun County.”

She said OpenBand, a service provider, spearheaded the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) initiative, running fiber-optic cables to residences. It also provided FTTH, telephone, cable television and digital video programming to Lansdowne on the Potomac and Southern Walk at Broadlands, creating “Smart Neighborhoods.”

SUPERVISOR EUGENE DELGAUDIO (R-Sterling) said broadband would provide an economic boost for Sterling. “We’re going after bigger companies and bringing them in. This is going to be a big investment in the community.”

He said the Sterling Foundation also has been recognized as an important player in the Loudoun County Sanitation Authority project. The authority has committed to replacing any trees that might be damaged or removed from the boulevard. It is working with the Sterling Foundation, which has been awarded a $70,000 Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (T-21) grant for landscaping.

B.F. Saul, a developer, donated $20,000, a few years ago. Maureen Hein, vice chairman of the Sterling Foundation, said the organization used $17,500 of that donation as matching funds to obtain the federal grant. “We have $87,500 worth of restricted federal funds to work on this,” Hein said. “Those funds only can be used for planting and beautification of the boulevard, not for maintenance.”

The Sterling Foundation is trying to raise another $150,000, for a total of $237,500, to buy and plant trees and shrubs on the median that runs down the middle of the four-lane road.

Members do not plan to buy flower beds, she said. “It takes a lot of time and volunteerism to maintain flower beds.”

Kate Davidson, of Kate Davidson Landscape Architecture and Garden Design, volunteers to identify the trees and shrubs that would best suit the area, given the soil, to design the layout and to provide other expertise for the project.

THE LOUDOUN COUNTY Sanitation Authority shared its copy of the $107,000 survey of the boulevard, showing the location of utilities. “That saved us an enormous amount of money,” Hein said. “We would have gone out to get our own surveyor.”

The Sterling Foundation, calling its project “Main Street in the Making,” plans to plant many different types of trees, such as Red Maple, Yoshino Cherry and Willow Oak. Hein said she hopes businesses will donate mulch.

Eventually, she would like to see the revitalization project expand to include the sides of the boulevard, sidewalks and lamp lighting. “It might be a small piece of revitalization for the whole community,” she said.