BERRYVILLE — Connecting Jack Enders Boulevard to U.S. 340 remains a priority for town officials as they look to eventually expand the Clarke County Business Park.
At issue is making a connection that meets the town’s needs while pleasing Norfolk Southern railroad. Extending the boulevard, or even building an entirely new road, will require crossing the railroad. For a new crossing to be established somewhere, Norfolk Southern wants at least one existing crossing along a road elsewhere to be closed because of concerns about travelers’ safety when encountering trains, according to local officials.
A consultant is continuing to study the issue. The town and county are sharing the $50,000 cost of the study equally.
U.S. 340 is known as Buckmarsh Street in Berryville and Lord Fairfax Highway in the county. Connecting Jack Enders Boulevard, which currently dead ends in the business park, with the highway should make it easier for trucks and other vehicles to enter and leave the park, local officials believe.
Several options have been put forward, but the one that town officials think would be best is one proposed by the consultant: Extending the boulevard southward through a property adjacent to the park to make a connection to U.S. 340 at Norfolk Southern’s existing railroad crossing on Smallwood Lane.
The consultant is examining how to make that connection. Town Manager Keith Dalton said he hopes Berryville Town Council and the Clarke County Board of Supervisors can hold a joint meeting within the next couple of months to be updated on the study’s progress.
Connecting Jack Enders Boulevard to Smallwood Lane is “the one (option) we think is the most viable,” Christy Dunkle, assistant town manager for community development and operations, recently told the council.
Now, officials are waiting to see if the consultants and Norfolk Southern agree, she said.
If the development of a new road, or improvements to existing roads, require establishing new railroad crossings, Norfolk Southern wants one or more existing crossings to be removed from roads for each crossing established. The more crossings there are, the more potential there is for traffic backups and accidents at crossings, Dunkle said.
Costs for connecting the boulevard to U.S. 340 — as well as to establish, upgrade or close railroad crossings — have not been determined yet. Dunkle said Norfolk Southern may be willing to pay for upgrades to some crossings while the community will have to pay for others.
The town and county will have to “work out who pays for what,” said Mayor Patricia Dickinson.
At this point, “I think it’s going to be very difficult to put a fine point on a budget number,” Dalton said.
The business park is designed to accommodate light industry — basically, companies that produce smaller-sized consumer items and which are not likely to cause pollution during manufacturing processes. Officials say there is little, if any, land remaining in the park to accommodate any company wanting to locate there in the future.
Therefore, the town is looking to annex adjacent unincorporated land in the county for an eventual expansion of the park.
“Specific boundaries have not been identified yet,” Dalton said.
However, the majority of the area targeted for annexation is just south of the business park. Parts of the area extend toward the southeast, as well as to the west toward U.S. 340. Town officials refer to the area as the “southern potential future growth area.”
Dalton said he thinks the town will not seek to annex land on the southwest side of U.S. 340.