Wider sidewalks will have to wait

The city of Manassas won’t push ahead its plans to widen Old Town’s sidewalks, officials say.

Because of slipping sales tax revenue, as well as an expected cut in funds from the state, the City Council is expected to keep the original spring 2004 start date for the $400,000 project.

Members of a special Center Street committee had been hoping the city would begin widening of sidewalks and planting trees next year.

“A lot of people put a lot of time into this project. And it has significant value for Old Town. Everybody wants to do the project. The problem we’re facing is a substantial collision with financial reality. We will simply have to balance those budgets as we go,” said City Manager Lawrence Hughes.

At the same time, most of the plans for Center Street are set for council approval:

Sidewalks along both sides of the street will be widened;

The city will raise the intersections at Main, Battle and West streets by 3 inches and pave them over with brick;

Trees will line both sides of the street, with the number being raised from four to nine;

The number of benches on the street will be increased from eight to 14;

Four additional trash cans will be placed along the street.

The idea of special lights embedded in Battle Street and West Street intersections is on hold, with council members asking for more study on the matter.

Louis Balboni, an Old Town Business Association member on the streetscape committee, said the need for the city to hold off on the project is understandable.

At the same time, he looks forward to the time when visitors to the downtown are able to walk the area in a more comfortable fashion.

“We’ve been trying to make the area more pedestrian friendly. We have the narrow sidewalks, the posts. There’s a whole array of things keeping us from being pedestrian friendly,” he said.

Staff writer Chris Newmarker can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 119.

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