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January 8, 2021

Marshall Main St. project slated to start in March

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
The project will include moving utility lines along Marshall’s Main Street to underground conduits.
It’s going to be a painful process. We want to make it as painless as possible.
— Marshall District Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
If all goes according to plan, long-awaited renovations to Marshall’s Main Street will start around March 1.

After the county government staff reviewed three bids, Fauquier’s board of supervisors in October awarded the $4.4 million construction project to Lorton-based Shirley Contracting Co. The same company built the recently-completed interchange at Warrenton’s southern edge.

The company expects to complete the improvements by about January 2022, said Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel, whose Marshall District includes the village.

“When Shirley begins construction, they’re going to be able to jump in and move quickly,” Ms. McDaniel said. “The hope is to get it done in one construction season. That assumes the weather cooperates and there are no unexpected curveballs from COVID or supply issues, or anything like that.”

An informal committee of Main Street business and property owners will keep merchants and others up to speed on the project and attempt to raise funds to provide “spot grants” to businesses that might be “temporarily impacted” during construction, Ms. McDaniel said.

The grants probably would be channeled through a new nonprofit called Marshall Moving Forward that would work to “strengthen the voice of Main Street businesses and property owners,” the supervisor said.

The supervisors on Jan. 14 probably will approve a resolution to allow Marshall Moving Forward to become affiliated with the Virginia Main Street program. Among other things, Main Street programs seek to reinvigorate their communities’ historic commercial areas.

Discussions of possible improvements to Marshall’s Main Street started in the 1990s.

Besides Main Street improvement, “There have been a lot of things in the planning stages in Marshall for a generation,” the Ms. McDaniel said. “They’re all sort of coming to fruition at the same time.”

They include the construction of new subdivisions, water system upgrades and the supervisors’ recent adoption of a zoning code that allows more flexible use of existing structures, for example, with the goal of retaining Marshall’s “unique character,” the supervisor said.

The planned Main Street improvements ultimately will benefit businesses and residents alike, she said.

Key features of the block-long Main Street Improvement Project include:

• New sidewalks and crosswalks along Main Street from just east of Winchester Road (Route 17) to just west of Frost Street near the old IGA.

• New sidewalks and crosswalks on Winchester Road.

• Moving electrical, phone and cable TV lines underground, eliminating utility poles.

• New street trees, lamps, benches and landscaping.

• A decorative, knee-high brick wall fronting 7-Eleven store at Rectortown Road and Main Street.

“It’s just a general sort of sprucing up to make it a very attractive, pedestrian friendly Main Street,” Ms. McDaniel said.

Two-way traffic along Main Street will continue through “the bulk of the construction,” the supervisor said.

During intersection work, certain turning movements temporarily will be limited.

Improvements to the Main Street and Rectortown Road intersection will require the detour of northbound traffic entering the village along Winchester Road (Business Route 17). That traffic will be directed to Old Stockyard Road to East Main Street (Route 55).

The project carries a total price tag of $6.9 million, including the cost of relocating utilities, right-of-way related expenses and Virginia Department of Transportation review fees.

Project funding includes $3.6 million in federal money, about $900,000 in private contributions, $583,000 in developer proffers, $475,000 in county government money and a $643,000 interest-free county government loan to Marshall’s lighting tax district.

The funding arrangement makes great financial sense for the county because the vast majority the cost will be picked up by the federal government and others, according to Ms. McDaniel.

The Marshall Business and Residents Association, which has about 20 members, continues to oppose the project.

Debate over the project about four years ago produced a split within the organization, with opponents taking control of the board and longtime members, who supported Main Street improvements, leaving the group.

The MBRA and its supporters regard the project’s scope as unnecessary, a waste of taxpayers’ dollars and believe the effort should be “cancelled,” MBRA President Mary Wilkerson said.

“It doesn’t have to be all or nothing at all,” Ms. Wilkerson said of potential Main Street improvements. “You don’t have to turn Marshall into new urbanism.”

The MBRA president suggested that donations could be made for “sensible improvements” to Main Street, including landscaping and street lights.

Ms. Wilkerson also questioned the logic of proceeding with a project that would further disrupt businesses already to straining to survive because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Opponents also worry that an increase in the lighting tax district places a burden on affected property owners.

The special district’s tax rate stands at a half cent per $100 of assessed value. That rate will increase to 2.5 cents to repay the interest-free county loan.

Under the new rate, the annual light district tax bill for “average” property valued at $378,000 in the district would increase from $18.90 to $94.50.

Ms. McDaniel noted that that in time, new development — both residential and commercial — would reduce the tax bills for all property owners within the light district.

And, the 2-cent tax rate increase could be eliminated in 10 years, after the interest-free county loan gets repaid, she said.

But the informal committee has discussed the idea of helping people who might “struggle” to pay the increase in their light district tax bill, Mrs. McDaniel said.

“If it becomes a financial burden, we’ll do what we can to address that issue for them,” she said.

Sensitive to the project’s impacts, Ms. McDaniel said: “It’s going to be a painful process. We want to make it as painless as possible.”

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.
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Myaccountinglab · January 9, 2021 at 8:25 am
It's great that at least now renovations to Marshall’s Main Street is going to start in March. But currently, it will affect business activity like we already facing COVID 19 problems. My lab accounting will create opportunities for learners and self-starters to start their own businesses.
PabloCruz · January 8, 2021 at 11:08 am
“The funding arrangement makes great financial sense for the county because the vast majority the cost will be picked up by the federal government and others, according to Ms. McDaniel.”

Typical Fauquier. State that you value something, but find a way for others to pay for it, or don’t do it at all.

Would it still be a good idea if all Fauquier taxpayers had to pay for it?
What a joke.
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