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Liberty widening to be done by year’s end
Wider street will have five lanes
Road construction crews work to widen Liberty Street in Martinsville. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Friday, July 12, 2013
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Motorists traveling on Liberty Street in Martinsville should have to contend with road construction for a few more months.
The widening of Liberty, from York Street north to the Henry County line, is expected to be completed by the end of the year, according to City Manager Leon Towarnicki.
When the project is finished, Liberty will have five lanes — two travel lanes in each direction plus a turn lane — from its intersection with Clearview Drive and Stultz Road to the county line.
Until now, most of the street has had one lane in each direction with the turn lane. The two new lanes are being installed on the street’s east side.
Initial paving of the two new lanes will begin later this month, Towarnicki said. They will be paved just enough so two-way traffic can be shifted to them while the existing lanes undergo repairs, he added.
Then, all five lanes will be repaved to meet regular highway standards and allow two lanes of traffic to travel both north and south, he said.
The Greyson Street entrance to Liberty will reopen after the two new lanes undergo initial paving, Towarnicki said.
The total project is costing about $7 million, he said.
Most of the money is from accumulations of annual Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) allocations for city highway needs.
About $2.4 million in federal stimulus funds enabled the project to be moved up from its original tentative starting date of 2018, Towarnicki said. State budget cuts had resulted in the project being postponed.
To help improve the route’s appearance, new traffic signals will be installed on crossarms above the intersection of Liberty and View streets. Signals there now hang on overhead wires.
When the widening is finished, the city will turn its attention to collecting enough funds to make repairs to the Commonwealth Boulevard bridge. The estimated cost is about $1.37 million, a VDOT website shows.
Widening the remaining portion of Liberty Street, from Commonwealth to near the Clearview/Stultz intersection, had been the city’s top priority for future transportation funds. That project eventually will be targeted.
The bridge repairs must get done first, Towarnicki said. Although the bridge is in no danger of collapsing, he said, as it gets older, it needs more and more maintenance that is getting beyond the city’s ability to handle.