The contract for one of the final pedestrian bridges for the Salem leg of the Roanoke River Greenway has been awarded, and construction is expected to begin in early spring.
Salem City Council agreed to award the low bid of $902,067 to Crossroads Bridge Inc., which was one of six firms to bid on the project. The unanimous vote came at Monday night’s council meeting, with all five council members present.
The project will be fully funded through funds awarded by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Chuck Van Allman, Salem’s Director of Community Development, said the 12-foot-wide bridge would be accessed from the existing Moyer Trail portion of the Greenway, on the left side as walkers are approaching on the downstream side. It would loop back on the south side to get to the existing trail upstream.
Currently walkers face vehicle traffic as they cross Eddy Avenue to get to the sidewalk on the bridge. Soon they will be able “to walk down a wooden ramp which will be handicapped accessible,” Van Allman said. “Basically you won’t have to stop, and can just keep on going. “The sidewalk will still be there,” he added.
As far as a target date, Van Allman said, “We want to start as soon as possible. We are waiting for VDOT to approve the low bid, to get materials in place and, start which I hope at the latest will be when the warm weather kicks in about February. We hope to be done within six to eight months.”
“We expect to have the state funding,” he explained, “and everything should be moving forward pretty quickly now.” The pedestrian bridge was not funded earlier because Salem did not have the funds, he reminded council.
So far as the status of other portions of the Greenway in Salem are concerned, heading north in the Cook Drive area, “We don’t have all the easements going from the Roanoke City border to Salem Rotary Park,” Van Allman said. “We plan to use our city Street Department people, and go up to the old sewer metering station, where walkers can walk across the border into Roanoke from there,” he said.
That portion of the trail would be about one-third of a mile in Salem and almost a mile in Roanoke, he added.
Salem City Planner Ben Tripp is working to coordinate with Roanoke County to develop a pathway along the river toward Greenhill Park, where the county has a section of the Greenway. Access to land along the river is more challenging there because the terrain slopes more steeply toward the river along Riverside Drive, with industries on the opposite bank.
One of the reasons Van Allman said Salem wants to go ahead and construct a connection north to Roanoke is localities never know how long state and federal funds will be available. A case in point was another item at the Nov. 13 Council meeting. Councilmembers unanimously passed a resolution urging President Donald Trump, Congressmen H. Morgan Griffith, Bob Goodlatte, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, and other members of Congress to continue the Federal Historic Tax Credit program.
HTC funds have been used in Salem’s planned downtown renovations by private entrepreneurs, the former Valleydale meat processing plant and Chestnut Manor apartments, council members pointed out.
“Historic Tax Credits are a great tool in the toolbox,” said Councilmember James Martin. “The City of Salem wouldn’t be this far along in projects without these Historic Tax Credits.”
Cutting out HTC is one of the proposals under the Trump administration.
Salem’s resolution noted that nationally, the HC has created over 2.4 million jobs, rehabilitated more than 42,000 buildings and leveraged $131.8 billion in private investments. Virginia is one of 35 states which have enacted complementary state HTC programs to help revitalize commercial downtowns and Main Street communities.
Four private dollars are leveraged for every dollar of federal support, the resolution also noted.
In other actions at the Nov. 13 meeting, council:
- Approved a special exception permit to allow Green Gearheads LLC, operated by Jay Brenner, to locate a scrap and salvage service business at 844 Union Street, behind Union Hall Cap and Gown and along Norfolk Southern railroad. The business has to meet seven conditions, including planting a landscaping buffer, limiting salvage to paper, cardboard, plastics and metal – but no auto parts – and all material has to be stored inside the building.
Vickie Lee Sanders, daughter of current owner William Lee, said they have spent more $12,000 and more than a month cleaning up junked autos and other scrap from the front and sides of the property, and an auction is set for Dec. 9. Brenner currently operates at 1115 Indiana St. and told councilmembers he should have everything out of that building – which is not renewing his lease – within two weeks.
- In regards to the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline gas line project, council passed a resolution urging the Commonwealth of Virginia to require the pipeline construction – if it is approved for this area by the Federal Environmental Regulatory Commission – to the same standards the city would be held to in regard to how much sediment is released into the Roanoke River. The city took no stand on the pipeline itself.
- Council also passed regulations on massage parlors, in keeping with state law. The regulations do not apply to medical massage, chiropractors or similar practices.