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Gateway Project construction set to begin

Construction is about to begin in Halifax on the Banister River Gateway Project that will include bridge streetlights, gateway sign, wayside with parking and interpretive signage, a river overlook, river access and future trailhead to the Tobacco Heritage Trail located adjacent to the recently constructed bridge on Scenic Byway 360.

Halifax Town Council is slated to authorize J. Harman Saunders Construction Inc. to start work on the Banister  River Gateway Project during its monthly meeting Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in Halifax Town Hall.

 On Jan. 30, Virginia Department of Transportation staff conducted a pre-construction meeting for the Banister River Gateway Project with general contractor J. Harman Saunders Construction, Inc., the Town of Halifax, Southside Planning District Commission, Roanoke River Basin Association-Upper Reach, consulting engineer Wiley|Wilson, project consultant Hill Studio, PC, Dominion Virginia Power and Upper Reach sub-contractor Watts Construction attending.

According to Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy, at that project overview held prior to Halifax Town Council authorizing the notice to proceed, J. Harman Saunders was awarded the contract of the competitive bid totaling $528,575.75.

The bid was opened on Nov, 7, Espy said. 

Earlier Jack Dunavant made a private donation of his family’s land between the new bridge and the old King’s Bridge, so that the final site plans could be approved by VDOT in August 2013. 

During the January meeting, the project partners reviewed the sequence of work, which is contracted for substantial completion within 240 calendar days.

Site preparation and construction are anticipated to start in March, weather permitting, Espy said. 

Roanoke River Basin Association Upper Reach Director Scott Murray partnered with the project in 2012 to design and install river access for the canoe/kayak launch and wayfinding signage for the Banister River Blueway from the King’s Bridge Landing to the Terry’s Bridge Landing on Highway 360 beyond to the Staunton River State Park as part of a regional canoe trail system.

Espy said since identifying the significance of the surrounding natural resources found along Banister Lake and the Banister River in the 2007 Comprehensive Plan, the Town of Halifax has been working with the Southside Planning District Commission, Dan River Basin Association, Roanoke River Basin Association-Upper Reach, Roanoke River Rails-to-Trail (Tobacco Heritage Trail), APVA, Halifax County Historical Society, Banister River Garden Club, Halifax County Tourism Office, VA Canals and Navigations Society, Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) and other organizations, local civic groups and interested citizens to secure VDOT Enhancement Grant Funds for the construction of the Banister River Gateway Project. 

On July 1, the Banister River from the Route 640 bridge in Pittsylvania County to the confluence with the Dan River in Halifax County, a distance of approximately 38.4 miles, was designated a component of the Virginia Scenic Rivers System. 

For the 2013 Scenic Awards Ceremony at the Virginia State Capitol on Oct. 11, Scenic Virginia’s Trustees showcased the efforts of the localities to use the new Scenic River designation for tourism, marketing and economic development, Espy said, noting the Banister River Gateway Project was featured prominently during the presentation in Richmond. 

As part of the project, Halifax Town Council members also are slated to authorize interim financing with SunTrust Bank for the Banister River Gateway Project on Tuesday night.

 In other action Tuesday night, council is slated to hear the business development committee’s recommendation for a new events coordinator in the town and possibly make a selection.

 Also during the meeting Halifax Police Chief Kevin Lands is expected to give his monthly police report to council.

In other business Tuesday night, the following items are slated for discussion during the committees meeting and work session:

Halifax Village Association organizational activities including the April 5 “Halicraft Art Festival” and ongoing community clock project;

 Town of Halifax Farmer’s Market activities;

 Halifax County Industrial Development Authority and Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Enterprise Zone (EZ) Administration Workshop; 

 MBC wireless pilot project update;

 January 2014 finance report;

 Finance committee FY 2013-14 preliminary budget amendments;

 HB 1237 Sunday hunting legislation;

 Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) kill permit terms and conditions for Halifax Police Department (HPD); 

 Status of vacation of plat request for Halifax Properties, LLC;

 Status on Cowford Road (State Route 651) 35 MPH speed zone VDOT traffic study/cemetery access road from Gatha’s Trail;

 Derelict properties and maintenance code enforcement update; and  

 Halifax Downtown Revitalization; courthouse renovation project; and extension of streetscape project.