Vision comes together

U.S. Representative Shelley Moore Capito joined Elkins residents Tuesday to dedicate the Railroad Avenue Streetscape Project, designed to lead visitors to the Elkins Depot and the Elkins Railyard.

“When this project was first proposed, the Elkins Railyard was nearly vacant,” Capito, R-West Virginia, said. “Now there is a great streetscape boulevard with wider streets, a sidewalk with curbs and lighting.

“It was a vision of the city and county leaders, designed to attract economic development and tourists into the heart of the city,” she said. “It is now completed, and is well-lit and beautiful. The completion of this streetscape is a situation showing great use of partnership to complete the project.”

Randolph County Development Authority Director Robbie Morris said he was thrilled the streetscape is complete.

“Lots of time and effort was spent on this project that was finally brought to fruition,” Morris said. “This thoroughfare is great to spruce up the area and is good for both tourists and residents. Before, this street was mostly an industrial access. Now it is both an attractive street and much safer.”

Morris said Railroad Avenue improvements will continue, including the addition of trees and repaving to match the previous work.

“Construction on this project began in May 2012 and was completed September 2012,” Morris said. “Efforts for a ribbon cutting were dampened by Superstorm Sandy. We are pleased to commemorate the project today. It is very nice to see and represents a great community partnership.”

Since the completion of the project, Morris said there is a noticeable difference on Railroad Avenue.

“Railroad Avenue has become such a thoroughfare,” Morris said. “It’s the perfect time of year to do that.” He noted the improved traffic flow in the area will be a positive influence on Forest Festival visitors and those tourists coming to Elkins to ride the train.

The initial grant proposal for the Railroad Avenue streetscape was written by former Randolph County Development Authority Director Jennifer Giovanitti.

The Randolph County Development Authority approved the completion of a streetscape project for the Elkins Railyard in April 2012. At that time, the cost of the 17 streetlights installed in the railyard raised concerns that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant the RCDA received for the streetscape project would not be sufficient to pay for all the work yet to be done, Morris said.

The HUD grant was for $142,000, while the cost of paying Allegheny Power for the streetlights was about $37,000 and Bill Swecker’s engineering fee for the project was approximately $17,000.