For the Town of Ashland, England Street is the primary gateway into the downtown area. As such it should be inviting, pedestrian-friendly, and reflective of Ashland's bright future.
The need to improve the England Street corridor was identified by Town staff and Council over a decade ago and the Town has been setting aside funding and resources to make this project a reality since. Community Input meetings on the design and other features were held in 2019 and 2020. We are thrilled to have secured funding for Phase 1 and are set to begin construction in partnership with Dominion Energy in the coming months!
What is a "streetscape"?
A “streetscape” is a planned combination of improvements to beautify and improve the built environment along a roadway for the traveling public. It is often geared toward pedestrians in high-traffic areas, where shoppers, tourists, and other types of visitors are expected...and desired! A streetscape will typically include a wide variety of site features, including street trees, street lighting, landscaping, enhanced sidewalks, site furniture, and related amenities.
What is the purpose of these improvements?
The purpose is to combine current and successful standards in downtown Ashland with new ideas to create a holistic gateway into the downtown area at a pedestrian scale, in partnership with the businesses and visitors to the Downtown area. These planned streetscape improvements will help beautify and connect the public space, and incentivize economic vitality and development in our historic downtown.
The streetscape master plan borrows elements from the streetscapes already in place in Ashland, such as the Railroad Avenue Streetscapes, the Municipal Parking Lot, the Plaza (at the library), the Town Hall grounds, the Ashland Train Station, and entry features for Randolph-Macon College.
What will the improvements look like?
Spanning the length of England Street from Railroad Avenue to US Route 1, this project will include:
- relocation of utility poles and lines to improve aesthetics and functionality;
- widened sidewalks to enhance pedestrian access and accessibility;
- crooked neck light fixtures to match those already in place along Railroad Ave;
- increased landscaping, pedestrian-friendly benches, and more.
How will traffic and pedestrian access be impacted during construction?
Throughout construction, partial road and sidewalk closures along England Street will be required. The Town is committed to working with businesses along and adjacent to the England Street corridor to minimize disruption to their daily operations and will provide updates to our business community as they become available throughout the construction process. Further, all road and sidewalk closures impacting traffic in the area will be communicated via the Town's channels.
What kind of timeline are we looking at for completion?
Due to the scale of this project in terms of overall investment (approximately $6 million), and the variety of businesses and utility providers involved, the England Street Streetscape Project is a phased multi-year project. Included in the Town of Ashland's Strategic Plan, the Town is committed to the completion of the entire project, consistently recommending allocation of funding for this project to Town Council each budget cycle.
Phase I, which includes the 100-200 block of England Street, is fully funded and slated for completion in 2024. Construction will begin as soon as Dominion Energy relocates the utility lines and poles, which the Town is optimistic will occur this winter/spring 2024. Once Dominion completes its portion, Town contractors will complete sidewalk and gutter work followed by the installation of new lighting and landscaping.
Funding for Phase II (300-400 block) and Phase III (500-600 block) will be requested by staff in FY25. If you would like Town Council to prioritize funding for the completion of this project in FY25, be sure to speak up during our Budget Public Input sessions, which will kick off in February 2024!
How can I stay up-to-date on this project?
You're welcome to join us for an informational meeting and update on Tuesday, Oct. 24th at 5pm at Ashland Town Hall. Please note, that the primary audience for this informational meeting is Ashland business owners along and adjacent to England Street, but all interested community members are welcome to attend.
Going forward, please stay tuned to the Town's social media channels, the "Talk of the Town" newsletter, and the England Street Streetscape project page for ongoing updates.