Town of Bedford looking to increase D-Day connectivity to Centertown

BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7)-- More than fifty thousand people visit the National D-Day memorial in Bedford every year, but town leaders aren't convinced they're doing everything they can to capitalize on those visitors.

"Having it is great, but enhancing it makes a great thing even better,” said Bart Warner, Town Manager of Bedford.

The town hired Hurt and Proffitt to conduct an engineering report studying connectivity opportunities. The report specifically focuses on Crenshaw Street, which turns into Burks Hill Road. It's a direct connection from town to the memorial, but they find sometimes it's not easy for first time visitors to find.

“We want to make sure that people are aware there is more down the hill than another way to get out to 460,” said Warner.

One thing the report mentioned was the lack of sidewalks on Crenshaw Street. The sidewalks currently there are narrow and close to the road.

"Just putting sidewalks against the road creates a threatening environment for pedestrians and vehicles," said Warner.

Engineers suggested a buffer. They also offered the idea of streetscaping with logos for the town and memorial pointing in either direction.

"They need visual cues to direct them all the way down that probably aren't in existence yet,” said Warner.

The town has already put in work to make sure a connection is there. Banners line Main Street, new historical markers were just unveiled, but this report takes it a step further.

It’s a push that local businesses, like the team at Town Kitchen, say they're eager to see.

“If you’re new to the area you don’t know about it. So maybe a little guidance through our town, signage would help the cause,” said Melanie Mays-Srsic, owner of Town Kitchen Provisions.

The eatery sees visitors come into town from the memorial, but they believe there could be more traffic if the town was more accessible.

The plan as Hurt and Proffitt presented it to town council would cost about $1.9 million, but it would be a phased approach.

Warner says the town has resources and momentum right now that make it a good time to decide how the project should be executed.

Next steps lie in the hands of Bedford Town Council, but Warner anticipates it will be a big topic of discussion come the fall.