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2009 News Releases

Longwood building two bridges for Lancer Park vehicle and foot traffic

October 12, 2009

The commute between the Longwood University campus and Lancer Park, one of the university's off-campus apartment communities, will soon be safer, more direct and more aesthetically appealing.

A project under construction will consist of a bridge for vehicular traffic from Healey Street in Lancer Park to West Third Street (U.S. 460), which will cross over an old railroad bed, and a pedestrian bridge spanning Third Street, which on the Longwood side will empty onto Grove Street near Buffalo Street. The two bridges will be linked by a 10-foot-wide pedestrian walkway. Lancer Park is six-tenths of a mile from campus on the other side of Third Street.

The vehicular bridge, to consist of two lanes and a pedestrian sidewalk on the east side, will have a deceleration lane for west-bound traffic going from Third Street into Lancer Park. The entrance onto Third Street from Lancer Park will be just east of the driveway for B&G Auto.

"Vehicular and pedestrian safety is the main reason for the project, and also aesthetics," said Ken Copeland, executive director of the Longwood Real Estate Foundation, which owns Lancer Park.

"Currently the only way to get to Lancer Park is to go around Buffalo Shook (a business on the other side of Third Street), via Appomattox Street, and up that hill on Grace Street. There is no easy way to get there, and it's not an aesthetic way to get there. The whole visual appeal of the complex will be enhanced by a better entrance."

The Bridges at Lancer Park project, to be completed by June 2010, will create a new entrance to Lancer Park, which is home to 258 students. Currently the main entrance is on Grace Street. Healey Street, which leads to the vehicular bridge, angles sharply to the left just inside the entrance.

The pedestrian bridge will be about 10 feet wide, like the walkway between it and the vehicular bridge, and will have a brick façade on both sides of Third Street. It will hook up on the Longwood side of Third Street near the St. Theresa Parish Center, providing a more direct route to and from campus.

"I have walked it, and it is closer from there to Beale Fountain (behind Blackwell Dining Hall) than from the fountain to the building where I work (the Longwood Small Business Development Center), which is on campus," Copeland said. "Then it's a straight shot to campus from Grove Street. We're taking a lot of twists and turns out of that walk."

To meet the Virginia Department of Transportation's standards of minimum height clearance, some 20 feet of elevation had to be achieved along the pedestrian walkway as it extends east, toward downtown Farmville, from the opening of the vehicular bridge onto the pedestrian bridge. It was achieved by adding to a bank that already existed.  "We're at least a foot or a foot-and-a-half above the minimum," Copeland said.

Between Lancer Park and Third Street, the vehicular bridge will cross over what is now part of the High Bridge Trail State Park, a "rails to trails" park created after Norfolk Southern Railway donated 31 miles of rail to the Commonwealth of Virginia in June 2007. The former railroad bed is on the Lancer Park side of Third Street, to which it runs roughly parallel. No bridge over the rail bed was possible until Norfolk Southern deeded over the land, Copeland said.

"Vehicles will not be going over Third Street; only pedestrians," he said. "All we will be bridging for vehicles is that old railroad bed. All vehicular traffic now has to cross over the old rail line (next to Buffalo Shook just after crossing to the other side of Third Street). After this project is done, none of the vehicular traffic will touch the rails to trails path; it will go over that. We are simply moving that vehicular traffic roughly one-tenth of a mile west. Vehicles will be on grade with Third Street. This is the straightest way to get cars in and out of Lancer Park. Due to the elevation, it's always been a challenge."

In going from Lancer Park to campus, the walkway between the two bridges will angle to the east at a 90-degree angle away from the vehicular bridge. When linking with the pedestrian bridge, still on the other side of Third Street, the walkway will cut to the south at almost a 90-degree angle.

The work, which began this past spring, is being done by English Construction Co. Inc. of Lynchburg, which in recent years has done several other projects on campus. The "lion's share" of the $3.5 million project is being financed through savings from the low interest rate on a bond consolidation of all three Longwood-managed apartment communities that the Longwood Real Estate Foundation negotiated in December 2007, Copeland said.

Lancer Park, originally called Stanley Park, is the oldest of Longwood's three apartment communities. It was built in three sections between 1999 and 2003 by local business people, and it consists of 30 four-bedroom townhouses, two buildings with 12 two-bedroom apartments each, and two buildings with four-bedroom apartments apiece. Originally it housed a combination of Longwood students and others. The Longwood Real Estate Foundation bought the complex in August 2005, and it has been managed by Longwood, through the Office of Residential and Commuter Life, since fall 2006.