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Digging in for Revitalization

The second phase of bond-financed improvements gets under way in central Springfield.

Seventeen years after Fairfax County voters gave their approval to bond money dedicated to revitalizing central Springfield, the sprucing process will soon be complete.

Construction crews went to work this week on the second phase of streetscape renovations in the heart of central Springfield. The $756,000 project will run through April and is a result of $3.3 million of revitalization bonds that were devoted to improving the Springfield revitalization district.

"This is a symbolic renovation that spring is just around the corner for Springfield," said Supervisor Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), who was on hand for a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, Feb. 11, in front of the Amherst Avenue bridge.

"This has taken a number of years to make happen, and has been a close partnership with the business community."

The project is centered around areas surrounding Amherst Avenue and Backlick Road, north of Old Keene Mill Road. Among the improvements will be three bus shelters, one located on Backlick Road at the Concord Shopping Center, one on Bland Avenue, and one on Backlick Road. In addition, new sidewalks with brick pavers will be installed, and landscaping work will bring plants and shrubs.

"Every business benefits when curb appeal takes place on a few streets," said Nancy-jo Manney, president of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

The project is the second of two streetscape renovations that use money gained from a 1988 Fairfax County revitalization bond referendum for $32 million. A portion of the money — approximately $3.3 million — went toward the revitalization district in Springfield.

"Like Rome, Springfield wasn't built in a day, but we're expecting great things in the next few years. This streetscape project is just one small part of the revitalization," said Al McAloon, a former chair of the Central Springfield Area Revitalization Council (CSPARC).

The previous phase of the streetscape project yielded similar improvements — bus stations, benches, trash cans, and landscaped areas — to Commerce Avenue and other areas, along with acorn street lights along Commerce Street and Amherst Avenue.

"This symbolizes the start visibly of the revitalization that's taking place in Springfield," said Skeeter Scheid, chair of CSPARC.