BY STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post —
Peach Street in Cape Charles will remain closed to traffic likely until the end of February, when the third phase of construction of the town’s multi-use trail is expected to be completed.
Town Manager John Hozey called the trail a “huge improvement” that will bring more customers to Peach Street businesses over the long term in exchange for some inconvenience in the short term.
Although vehicle access to Peach Street is currently blocked, the construction company on the project has provided the means to walk safely to the businesses on that street, as required by contract, Hozey noted.
The first two phases of the Cape Charles Community Trail project, which include Central Park, Washington Avenue, and north Peach Street, have been completed.
The project began more than 16 years ago, in September 2007, when the town council adopted the Cape Charles Master Trail Plan.
Up to 80% of trail funding is being provided by a federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant, administered by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The total federal grant award was about $4.3 million, with around $700,000 set aside for the project’s third phase.
Phase 3 was put out to bid in 2019, but all of the bids received were deemed too high and none was accepted.
Phase 3 was resubmitted for bids in May 2023. Only one bid was received, from a previous bidder, Conrad Brothers of Virginia Inc., of Chesapeake.
The bid was 74% higher than the bid that the same contractor had submitted four years prior, which had been rejected.
However, rather than lose the federal grant award, the Town Council decided to accept the Conrad Brothers’ base bid of nearly $760,000.
VDOT project oversight and inspections were estimated to add about $173,000 to the cost of the Phase 3 trail.
A 5% contingency and other expenditures brought the total cost of Phase 3 to a little over $1 million.
After accounting for the federal grant and budgeted local matching funds, Cape Charles was left with a Phase 3 funding gap of around $73,500.
The town council voted to accept the lone bid of approximately $760,000 in July 2023.
Before the vote, Hozey had noted that Cape Charles would receive $2.35 in federal funding for every dollar the town spent on the community trail, meaning it was still a “worthwhile project.”
The fourth and final phase of the project will extend the multi-use trail to Bay Avenue, which runs parallel to Cape Charles beach.