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Capital Improvement Update

Town Council, Planning Commission hear mid-year review on town projects in various stages.

Currently, 46 projects in town are undergoing various stages of construction, design and planning, according to Bob Boxer, director of Public Works.

In a special work session before the Jan. 17 Town Council work session, Boxer updated council and Planning Commission members with a six-month review of the town's capital improvement program.

Highlighting the major projects, Boxer used a color coding system to detail the projects' status. Much like a stop light, green means projects are a "go," amber means projects have minor problems, and red means they are stopped.

Of the 46 projects in the works, eight will not currently move forward, Boxer said. But, for the remainder of the year, some of the town's major projects have a green light.

These projects include the creation of a nature center at Runnymede Park, as well as additional park improvements, the completion of phase four improvements to the Herndon Community Center and phase one of the Triangle Street improvements. The most expensive improvement is the addition of a stop light at Grove Street near the post office.

Other projects on the list include street widening along South Elden by the Virginia Department of Transportation, the completion of drainage improvements on Monroe and Station streets and completing the design phase and beginning construction at Chestnut Grove Cemetery.

Originally on the books for this year were additional improvements to the Herndon Centennial Golf Course, but director of golf Gene Fleming removed them from the list because not enough funding was available in his budget this fiscal year. The improvements were moved to FY 2008, Boxer said.

"RUNNYMEDE IS on the fast-track," said Boxer. But, due to problems with survey data, the project, which was slated to begin nature center construction and overall park improvements at the same time, will be split up.

Because the project is funded by grant money that will run out in May 2007, the site plan for the nature center will move forward quickly so bids can be sought in the near future, Boxer said.

Offering input to this project, council member Steven Mitchell emphasized that it be completed in time to use the grant money.

"In February, we'll be back to council with alternate options because funding is an issue," Boxer said. "We'll need to determine what needs to be done with the nature center, which will begin in April, and then we will catch up to the other site improvements."

Downtown streetscape improvements are 95 percent complete, but further engineering still needs to be clarified. Bidding will occur in March and a projected completion date for the improvements — which include the installation of sidewalks, new streetlights and curb and gutter, among other things — should be April 2007. Following the downtown design plan, new streetlights will be added along the Station, Pine and Lynn Street areas to replace a number of the column lights that are tilted and not throwing the light that they should. The lights will be replaced with acorn-style lighting that is required in certain zoning areas under the town's zoning ordinance. The hope is final streetscape construction will begin after the Herndon Festival this June, Boxer said.

Worldgate Drive is scheduled to be repaved. The road has gotten worse due to harsh weather and frequent use. The repaving project is slated to begin this April and May. Mitchell questioned if the town could enter into an agreement with VDOT to become a pavement guinea pig. Because the pavement along Worldgate Drive was poorly made the first time, Mitchell would like to see VDOT use that area as an experiment for future pavement mixtures to cut the cost of the town having to repave the road.

TOWN STAFF and VDOT officials have scheduled a February meeting to discuss the South Elden Street widening project, Boxer said.

"This is not going to be a fun project," he said. "This is going to be one of those things that you just gotta get done."

Prior to construction, residents will be notified of the construction plans, which include the addition of two left turn lanes on Elden Street from the direction of the Toll Road onto the Herndon Parkway.

Commissioner Ted Hochstein suggested the town look into improving the stacking of cars along the Herndon Parkway near Summerfield Drive. Currently there are traffic jams in this area, and with the increased turning off of Elden Street due to VDOT improvements, the stacking will only get worse, Hochstein said.

Other projects on the CIP radar include repairing a leak in the lobby of the Town Council Chambers, the renovation of the front and back porches of the Herndon Municipal Center and the replacement of a waterline along Pearl Street. A waterline replacement along Monroe Street and Herndon Parkway is also currently in its design stage with a targeted summer completion date, Boxer said.

After his review, commissioners and council members posed a handful of questions and suggestions.

Mitchell requested the town look into ways to lay conduits in town to help with the future burying of all utility wires.

Focusing primarily on the priorities of the projects, most questions dealt with funding and what could be done to help staff as they balance the varying stages of the multiple projects.

"We're trying to keep all the plates spinning before they hit the floor," Boxer said. "We try not to load up a year of projects if we don't have the man power to operate them."