Pathways for Radford back on the path

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RADFORD — After being inactive for about two years, the nonprofit organization Pathways for Radford got moving again with a well-attended meeting held at Grace Episcopal Church on Wednesday night.

This is a rendering of what the completed pathways project may look like, looking north on Second Avenue. Second Avenue is a main artery connecting east and west Radford and a road to Radford High and Middle schools. The improvements will include stormwater guttering, lighting and a walking/bike path. Courtesy of the City of Radford.

Spearheaded by Liz Alteri, the meeting included a presentation by Radford City Engineer Jim Hurt on the much-anticipated Second Avenue improvement project.

Almost 30 people crowded into the dim room. Introductions went around the room before Hurt took the floor with a fact-intensive slide presentation. With a budget of almost six million dollars, the Second Avenue project will include road upgrades not previously seen in Radford.

The project began in 2008 with a grant to create safe routes to Radford High and Middle schools. Second Avenue is a major artery connecting East and West Radford that traverses to the bottom of a valley that contains Connelly’s Run creek and is joined by Park Avenue and Sundell Drive before changing it’s name to Scott Street and going back uphill to the schools. It is a two-lane road that is treacherous to walkers and bike riders.

Construction has finally begun and will include a roundabout to connect the four roads; a much safer intersection than what exists today. The roadway will be 30 feet wide with a paved bike path running parallel and separated from the road by a six to 10-foot green strip. It will also contain streetlights. The construction is slated to be completed in 2014.

This is a rendering of what the completed pathways project may look like, looking north on Second Avenue. Second Avenue is a main artery connecting east and west Radford and a road to Radford High and Middle schools. The improvements will include stormwater guttering, lighting and a walking/bike path. Photo by Charlie Whitescarver.

Necessary to the plan is a stormwater retention pond to settle silt before draining in Connelly’s Run. Attendees at the meeting were concerned about the appearance of the retention pond but Hurt explained it was designed to drain after a storm and not retain water. Before construction, an archeological survey was performed to make sure there were no significant archeological artifacts in the area.

The roundabout is new to Radford though it had been in the planning for many years. Hurt showed an animation of how cars would negotiate the traffic circle and the crowd let out an “ooh” as the animated cars navigated the intersection in a steady flow. Bikes and walkers would have the right of the way but the system will be far safer than the existing road.

During construction the road will not be closed but Hurt explained “there will be slow down and flagmen during the construction.” Information about the construction will be posted on the city’s website soon.

Hurt continued his presentation by showing the possibilities of extending the present riverwalk out to West End past the Glencoe Museum and on the east end taking the walk across the river via an unused railroad trestle.

“I see more positives than hindrances to get this built,” Hurt said. “But we must see a vision before we develop a goal.”

Assistant Dean of Students at Radford University David Horton has been working with the city to attain Tree City status.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, “Communities achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.”

Horton announced that Radford had achieved that status and a presentation will be made at the April 22 City Council meeting. Radford will celebrate Arbor Day on April 27.

The meeting concluded with a financial report and a brief and inconclusive discussion on maintaining the group’s nonprofit status.

By Charlie Whitescarver