What is the Connector Road, and is it part of the park project?
While the Connector Road will run through the park property, it is a separate project and is dependent on future funding. The Connector Road would provide another north-south thoroughfare for the town by ultimately connecting Peppers Ferry Road (adjacent to the park) to North Franklin Street (near the Food Lion Shopping Center/Waffle House).
Phase I of the Connector Road is primarily a two-lane road extension planned from Peppers Ferry Road (Route 114) at the recently installed Quin W. Stuart Boulevard traffic signal to a roundabout planned at the Cambria Street and Providence Boulevard intersection. Phase II of the Connector Road extends the two-lane road from the roundabout to the new North Franklin Street intersection, where a traffic signal was recently installed as part of the Town’s North Franklin Corridor Improvement Project.
A section of Phase I of the Connector Road will be constructed from Peppers Ferry Road (Route 114) to the main park entrance as part of the first phase of the park development. It will provide interim park access until the full road is constructed. In January 2021, the Town was awarded $425,000 in Recreation Access funding through VDOT to help pay for this construction. Of these funds, $350,000 ($250,000 unmatched from VDOT and $100,000 matched from the Town) will be allocated to construct the access road and $75,000 ($60,000 unmatched from VDOT and $15,000 matched from the Town) will be allocated to construct the bikeway to the park.
The Connector Road plans were developed to the 35% stage to establish the horizontal and vertical alignment for the park access road and to support a Connector Road Phase I VDOT Smart Scale funding application submitted to VDOT in late summer 2020. The Connector Road was not selected for Smart Scale funding during this round, but the Town continues to pursue VDOT funding opportunities.
Town Council voted on Jan. 12, 2021 to name the proposed Connector Road the Booker T. Washington Parkway. Washington served as superintendent of Christiansburg Industrial Institute (CII) from 1896 until his death in 1915 and was instrumental in expanding the curriculum to include both classical instruction and practical instruction in industry and the trades. The school was relocated to Lattimer Plantation in 1898 and was significantly expanded in the following years, growing to 14 buildings and 185 acres—some of which Booker T. Washington Parkway will reside on. George Washington Carver and other members of the Tuskegee University staff visited CII, and prominent industrial engineer John Wines Lester lived on the CII campus.
Today, Christiansburg Institute, Inc. (CI, Inc.) is a 501(c)3 grassroots, cultural heritage and historic preservation non-profit organization with a mission of education and empowerment. CI, Inc. operates a museum containing archival collections and artifacts from CII’s 100-year legacy. The non-profit offers community education and cultural programming; partners with local community agencies, schools and local government; and manages the historic preservation and adaptive reuse of the Edgar A. Long Building and adjoining CII properties. Learn more about CII history at CI, Inc.’s exhibit here: tinyurl.com/CIExhibit. (Source: Christiansburg Institute, Inc.)