Main Street improvements in Gloucester

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Aug 07, 2019 - 03:57 PM

The Gloucester County Board of Supervisors gave its nod Tuesday night to two projects to move forward to enhance Gloucester’s Main Street.

The first is an enhancement funded by the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust to bring some plantings and signage to the Route 3/14 intersection with Main Street. The second was to allow the county and Park Partners to continue with plans to develop the Tucker Store Community Space project located adjacent to the colonial court circle.

The Route 3/14 project is being done in conjunction with VDOT’s SmartScale program, which will change the configuration of the intersection and will provide pedestrian improvements with new sidewalks, accessible ramps, crosswalks and pedestrian signals. The MSPT is piggybacking on this project and will be working within VDOT’s already-engineered parameters to simply beautify what the state contractor implements there.

According to Main Street Preservation Trust executive director Jenny Crittenden, this will be phase two of what has already been done at the intersection of Main Street and Route 17 near Walmart. She said the Trust put $140,000 into that project and the trust’s board voted last week to allocate $130,000 toward improvements at the 3/14 intersection.

According to Ricky Wiatt, landscape architect working with MSPT on the project, improvements will include landscaping along the medians, banner poles and “Welcome to Main Street” signs—all within the VDOT pre-set boundaries. “It’s all an effort to draw people downtown to our shops and restaurants on Main Street,” Wiatt said.

Several supervisors were concerned with the overall design of the already-approved SmartScale project. However, county administrator Brent Fedors said this decision doesn’t impact the design of the roadway. “It’s basically whether you want this VDOT-style or Main Street Preservation Trust-style,” Fedors said.

According to VDOT, its part of the project at the intersection will provide dual left-turn lanes and dual right-turn lanes from Route 17 Business (Main Street) onto Route 3/14 (John Clayton Memorial Highway). It will also allow for dual left turns onto Route 17 Business southbound with a left-turn lane and a shared right/thru/left lane. Also, the traffic signal at the intersection will be upgraded to align with the new configuration and signal timings will be adjusted to optimize traffic flow through the intersection.

Tucker Store property

In other news, the board voted to allow the Parks, Recreation and Tourism department to use funds it has raised through a variety of efforts to move forward with its Community Open Space Project at the Tucker Store property.

Katey Legg, director of Gloucester’s PRT department, said cash and other donations raised so far amount to $84,263. She said additional donations in the amount of $20,108 are actively being sought to make the total $104,371 cost of the project. If the balance of the project is not raised, Legg said that the project’s scope will be adjusted. However, she is optimistic that will not be the case.

Legg provided some details of the project that will complement the building that once stood there. She said what has come to be known as Tucker Store originated in 1872 and operated through 1980, and has since been demolished. During that time, it served under many different names and purposes, including a carriage wheel-maker shop, Legg said.

She said the design of the space will include a U-shaped walkway and bricks will be laid in spokes to resemble a carriage wheel. She said there will be a water fountain for people and their pets, which is being donated by the Gloucester Woman’s Club.

A community clock is being donated by the Hockaday family in memory of a loved one, while the benches to be included in the space are being donated by the MSPT and other individual donors.

Customized bricks can still be ordered for inclusion in the project for $50 each. They can be ordered by visiting www.polarengraving.com/parkpartners or by visiting the PRT office. 

The site, she said has been undergoing archaeological review. Once that is completed, the county will begin working on a bid document and construction will begin. Currently, work is also being done on the text for several kiosks that will be included in the space. These will describe the history of daffodils in Gloucester, the history of the Daffodil Festival, the history of Gloucester Court House and Werowocomoco.