County wins $1.2 million grant for Palmyra streetscape project

By Heather Michon

Change is coming to Palmyra Village, thanks to a new grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). 

The $1.2 million award for the county’s Palmyra Village Streetscape proposal comes from the federally-funded Transportation Alternatives Program, or TAP, which focuses on pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly projects.

According to the VDOT website, TAP’s goal is to “create safe, accessible, attractive, and environmentally sensitive communities where people want to live, work, and recreate,” particularly those that have a historic preservation element.

The proposal for the Palmyra Village Streetscape envisions a major redesign of the streets around the historic courthouse, Civil War Park, and the Old Stone Jail. 

A concept plan introduced to the Board of Supervisors in 2021 shows five-foot wide sidewalks and ramps along the edge of the park along Court Square and in front of the historic courthouse. Part of the wall along the edge of Civil War Park would be removed to improve access. Parallel parking would be established across from the Old Stone Jail and Maggie’s House.

The biggest change would be the removal of the paved space currently separating the park from the old courthouse. Much of this would be removed to create angled parking spaces along Main Street, with a wide strip turned into a greenspace connecting the park to the courthouse. 

The total project cost is estimated at $1,589,156. The TAP award will cover $1,271,325, with the county picking up the difference.

County Administrator Eric Dahl announced the grant at the top of the July 6 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, having learned of the award earlier in the day. 

“It’s not going to do all of the sidewalks,” he said. “It’s sort of the first phase.” Supervisors will also have to sign off on VDOT agreements before the project can get underway.

Creating a safer and more walkable Palmyra has been on the supervisors’ list of strategic initiatives for years, with discussions going back to at least 2016. It was a major focus of a project by the Fluvanna Leadership Development Program (FLDP) and later, the Palmyra Area Revitalization Committee (PARC). 

Palmyra Village is poised to change dramatically over the next decade. 

With the construction of a new county office complex on Rt. 53 now in the planning stages, many of the government offices now located in the village will eventually be shut down, opening up the potential for businesses to move in. Revitalizing the village’s historic center might help add to the appeal for new tenants.    

VDOT could begin the streetscape project as early as next year and take up to three years to fully complete. A more specific timeline should emerge in the coming months.    

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