Fuquay-Varina wants to spruce up Varina downtown area

aramos@newsobserver.comJanuary 31, 2014 

  • About the Varina Streetscape Master Plan

    Phase I, $442,000: Western and eastern portions of East Broad Street

    Phase II, $215,750: Ransdell Road, Stewart Street, North Street

    Phase III, $464,000: Fayetteville Street, Durham Street, Charlotte Street

— To walk from the Fuquay downtown to the Varina downtown, pedestrians have two options, and neither is ideal.

They could cross the railroad tracks and busy intersection on Ennis Street. Or they could dodge cars on Fayetteville Street, where there are missing sidewalks and poor lighting to Wake Chapel Road.

At least one of those options could see some improvements.

The Fuquay-Varina Board of Commissioners recently approved the Varina Streetscape Master Plan that calls for adding street lights, burying utility lines and making sure there are sidewalks on both sides of Fayetteville Street between Broad Street and Wake Chapel Road.

The $1.1 million plan could be implemented in three phases, with Fayetteville Street part of the third phase.

While commissioners approved the plan Jan. 21, they have not yet decided how to fund the project.

Paying for the projects will likely come up during the board’s planning retreat in Pinehurst on Feb. 16-18. Town Manager Adam Mitchell is still working on the retreat agenda, said town spokeswoman Susan Weis.

One of the first phases of the plan calls for an extension of the brick-inlaid sidewalks, trees and benches beyond the original core of East Broad Street to Fuquay-Varina High School on one end and the Home Depot shopping center on the other end.

That’s good news for Andrea Bankert, owner of Sweet Creations Frozen Yogurt at 400 Broad St. The shop would be in the extension area.

The plan also calls for a crosswalk and greenway entrance near the front of the store, which is close to Fuquay-Varina High School.

“We see a nice crowd come in after school lets out in the afternoons and are thrilled that they will have an easier time crossing the street for an afternoon snack,” Bankert said.

Other highlights from the plan include new pedestrian lights and a 7-foot concrete and brick sidewalk on a one-block section of Ransdell Road; two blocks of sidewalk, trees, lights and a turn lane along North Street; and accessibility ramps, sidewalks, benches or bicycle racks on Stewart Street.

Also as part of the plan, Fuquay-Varina would add more on-street parking along Broad Street and an open-space area along Durham Street.

The Varina Streetscape Master Plan is part of the town’s continuing efforts to update the landscaping downtown.

In 1998, 2005 and 2010, the town completed streetscape projects in the main stretches of the Fuquay and Varina downtowns. It spent at least $1.7 million on sidewalks, lamp posts, buried power lines and more.

This past year, the town installed some sidewalks along one side of Broad Street, connecting to the Home Depot shopping center. The Varina master plan calls for sidewalks along both sides and adding lighting and trees.

“Part of the goal is to make (our town) more user-friendly so people can walk around and use our downtown to get to everything,” Mayor John Byrne said last year, when town leaders began discussing the Varina streetscape plan.

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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