Duke of Gloucester Street could get a facelift sometime in the next fiscal year.
A draft city budget for the upcoming fiscal year that was presented to City Council at its annual retreat last week included plans to repave the historic road and pedestrian pathway that runs through the Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area.
According to the draft, $300,000 would be set aside for the project, although an exact cost is uncertain until the final budget is approved and the city begins accepting bids for the project.
In past years, Colonial Williamsburg has paid for maintenance work on Historic Area streets using Virginia Department of Transportation funds passed on by the city, but that agreement between the city and CW will expire July 1, city manager Andrew Trivette said. Historic Area street maintenance projects will now fall on the city.
City Engineer Aaron Small said a number of cracks and potholes along Duke of Gloucester Street made it a prime candidate for the repaving work. A stretch of road spanning three-quarters of a mile from Boundary Street to the Colonial Capitol building could be resurfaced if the project is included in the final budget for the 2020 fiscal year.
“You can see that there are potholes, repairs, it’s a mismatch of all different kinds of pavements and it’s just the years of wear and tear,” Small said. “It’s been over 15 years before any major pavement overlays have been done out there.”
If funding is approved, Duke of Gloucester Street is expected to be repaved with a brownstone aggregate surface that is being tested in front of the city’s Transportation Center and on a patch of roadway in front of Colonial Williamsburg’s stables. Small and Trivette said the trial patches of the new aggregate were installed at those two locations last October to test how the surfacing holds up against continued wear and tear from vehicle and carriage wheels.
“We wanted to see how the carriage wheels will affect it, and it has held up remarkably well, so we think we have a winner,” Trivette said.
Although the final product would maintain Duke of Gloucester Street’s colonial look, the application process may raise some eyebrows.
“The first layer is black like asphalt, so then after that goes down, it has to sit and cure and then we can put the top layer on it, but there will be a period of time where Duke of Gloucester Street looks like a super-highway,” Trivette said.
Small said the work will begin with a machine that will grind the existing pavement down to the cobblestone underneath, removing the existing layer of asphalt. From there, crews will lay the new base layer of black asphalt, which will take 45 days to cure. Once that base layer hardens, crews will move in and install the final surface layer.
The work would be done in sections, which could temporarily close parts of the street for a few hours during the day, Small said. The street would be open to foot and vehicle traffic while the asphalt sets.
Although a specific timeframe for the project is still being negotiated between the city and Colonial Williamsburg, the project may interfere with the spring and summer tourism season. That’s because it would be too cold to pour the asphalt during the winter months, Trivette said.
“We hope it will be a minor inconvenience to those visitors that happen to come while we’re doing that resurfacing,” he said.
The 2020 fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2020. The city manager’s office is expected to release a proposed budget on March 19 after receiving input from Planning Commission and the EDA. City Council will then review the proposed budget through public hearings in April and is expected to adopt the budget on May 19.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.