Streetscape Projects in Orange Set to Begin After Decade of Planning

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A pair of streetscape projects are about to get underway in the town of Orange after over a decade of negotiations.

Town Planner John Cooley says a contract will be signed this week to make over a stretch of downtown Orange along the railroad tracks.

The Railroad Avenue Project has been in planning since 1998. Cooley says personnel changes at Amtrak caused the plans to drag out for many years.

Finally though, the improvements are set to begin in the new year.

The Railroad Avenue Project is designed to add new pedestrian walkways and lighting in downtown Orange. Project plans also include redoing parking lots and paving over some gravel roads.

Cooley says safety is a priority for the $385,000 project. Fencing will be installed alongside these railroad tracks to keep people off them.

He says the core vision of the project is transportation related and will improve the downtown.

But for at least one business owner, the planned improvements are too late.

Patrick Newell is closing his antique shop, Lionshare Antiques, in Orange.

"To me it's just more empty words,” he says. “I hope this will actually happen for the town. The town has a lot of great potential, but my time here has just run out. I've just had enough."

Cooley says he understands the frustration of the wait, but he believes the town is looking forward to the makeover on the way.

"It's great for the area because people have heard about these projects for such a long time and it's almost like a fairytale,” he says. “You just keep hearing about it but nothing ever happens."

The Railroad Avenue Project is set to be finished by spring.

Cooley says a contract for another project on Bird Street will be signed by the end of this month or sometime in December. That project includes new water and sewer lines, sidewalks and streetlights.

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