Potomac Street upgrades underway

HARPERS FERRY – Plans to revitalize Potomac Street in the lower town of Harpers Ferry will soon be completed, according to Mayor Joe Anderson.

“The design consultants have virtually completed their design work and we are now in the process of easement negotiation with a few property owners,” Anderson said, adding the town hopes to be in a position to bid out the project in late spring or early summer. The easements will be to construct storm water lines and new sidewalks.
Anderson described the work to be done as a streetscaping project. It will be primarily funded by a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Matching funds and in-kind donations were also made by the state, county, and town as well as by a number of businesses and individuals.
“We’re going to be undergrounding wires and putting in new storm water management so we hope that that will help avoid some of the water buildup that occurs now on the street,” Anderson said. “Putting the wires underground will make the street more attractive.”
Several more measures will go toward beautifying lower town Harpers Ferry, he said.
“We’re going to be building new sidewalks, widening sidewalks, putting in lighting, (and adding) trash receptacles, bike racks, trees and benches. We want to repave the streets and put in curbs that are, so to speak, seamless with the curbs in the park services. So we’ll have the same aggregate treatment on the road surfaces. It kind of looks old-fashioned.”
An important motivation for the infrastructure and streetscaping projects is the need to draw in and keep more tourism dollars.
“We want the area to be more attractive for the tourists,” Anderson said. “And hopefully, in time, this will encourage more investment in businesses along that street. It should stimulate economic development with the businesses that need to be fixed up.”
The project will also include a small amount of new parking to help alleviate persistent difficulties in lower town. There will also be a small land swap with the National Park Service to ensure parking spaces will be on town-controlled land.
While the broad outlines of the plan have been presented many different times the final plans will be reviewed during Monday’s Town Council meeting, Anderson said.
Anderson said residents should be aware of potential temporary disruptions in normal traffic patterns once construction on the project begins.
“We are concerned with the impact on business during the construction phase,” he said. “It’s going to be kind of a difficult period once it starts, because the train station has a commuter lot that will make things busy during weekdays and, especially during the height of the tourist season, there are a lot of people in the area.”
$1.3 mil grant
Town kicked in-kind
County Commission, State, and Private


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