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Milling, paving under way

By Staff | Jul 30, 2010

A silver Porsche rumbles across patchwork asphalt and potholes on Washington Street earlier in the week. Scenes like this will become rare, as crews begin an intensive project to improve Shepherdstown’s most deteriorated streets.

For the first time in nearly 25 years, some Shepherdstown streets are in the midst of an overhaul as crews began a much anticipated milling and paving project designed to smooth out five of Shepherdstown’s most deteriorated roadways. This isn’t just filling holes, either. The project involves removing, or milling, the exisiting asphalt so that a fresh roadway can be laid down.

The approximately $200,000 project began earlier this week on Monday, July 26, on Washington Street, with workers blocking off the street to begin prep work. Throughout the week, crews were scheduled to work on sections of Washington, King, New and Mill streets. Officials hope to begin the milling and paving of High Street next week. Despite requests for more detailed schedules of the construction at recent Town Council meetings, Shepherdstown Public Works Director Frank Welch says that it is hard to schedule construction on a day by day basis. “You never know what you’re gonna run into,” said Welch by phone on Monday afternoon. “I think we’ll be fine. There haven’t been any complaints yet.”

Earlier in the month, city employees distributed letters to residents alerting them to the upcoming work and instructing them to remove their vehicles from affected streets during the construction. The letter told residents that during the week of July 26 crews would be working on Washington Street between Duke and Church streets, King Street between Washington and New streets, New Street between Duke and Church streets and Mill Street from the entrance of the Rumsey Monument to German Street. Beginning this next Monday, August 2, the crews are scheduled to work on the largest portion of the project, milling and paving five blocks of High Street from Church Street all the way down to the Norfolk Southern Rail Road tracks near the intersection of College and Ray Streets.

Residents living along the affected streets seem upbeat about the work, despite the associated temporary parking troubles. “What a lot of people don’t understand is that this is a state highway, and we get a lot of truck traffic,” said 38 year-old Washington Street Joshua Bloom. His house sits directly in front of one of the most pockmarked sections of road in Shepherdstown. He looks forward to having a new, smoother street in front of his house, saying that the truck tires banging through the potholes creates a lot of noise on top of the already loud diesel engines. He also says that the investment in the area is much needed. “I think it’s great that the town is spending money on something off main street, for once,” said Bloom, who contrasted the milling and paving of the residential areas with the improvements made to German Street in 2008 and 2009.

Fran Skiles, a High Street resident of three years, actually says she thinks High Street is in fair condition, despite the number of potholes on it, but she says she looks forward to having a smoother roadway. The impending and temporary loss of her residential parking spot to construction does have her concerned. “We don’t have off street parking,” says Skiles, “I have no idea where I am going to park. I’m hoping the town will give us some direction.” Officials from Shepherdstown are instructing residents take advantage of other parking zones. A vehicle bearing a residential permit may park in any of the residential parking areas throughout town. There are also a number of free 90 minute parking zones, such as on Church Street.

According to Welch, the last time Shepherdstown’s roadways received such an intensive face lift was way back in 1986 when a “great majority of the town” was repaved.