If there’s one dramatic indication of how Ranson and Charles Town intend to guide their futures, it will be the design, during the September 8-14 collaborative workshop, of a $1.4 million “Green Corridor” along Fairfax Boulevard and George Street.
The planning is made possible through a combination of federal grants, signaling the national interest in the kind of approach Ranson and Charles Town are exploring. Read about the grants and their objectives here.
It’s an ambitious enough initiative to serve — say Ranson/Charles Town leaders who proposed the idea — “as a national model for how small, rural cities on the fringe of a major metropolitan area can foster sustainable economic development, transit, and community livability through targeted and strategic planning and infrastructure investments.”
The focus of the corridor design will be Fairfax Boulevard from 12th Ave. to the north and Washington Street to the south. What the design team will be doing, says transportation engineer Rick Hall, is “reaching back to an era in which boulevards were for walking, biking and transit, or walkability for short,” between shops, residences and offices.
“Then,” says Hall, “we’ll blend that 1900s-era walkability with mobility options of the 21st century, including automobiles, bikes and transit.”
The result, in the parlance of contemporary planning, will be a “complete street,” maximizing access to commercial and residential uses along the boulevard and ways of getting there. Expanding mobility choices reduces dependence upon private automobiles alone and the greenhouse gas emissions that come with car-only transportation. That’s where some of the “green” in the “Green Corridor” comes in.
Hall and fellow designers will also be addressing a second component on the transportation menu, the creation of a regional Commuter Center in historic Charles Town. The Center will be a convenient place to walk or bike to from downtown, to arrive by bus or to be dropped off by car. “You grab a Danish and a cup of coffee and catch a bus to the regional rail connection,” says Hall. “Then, you’re off to Washington or Baltimore. This will enhance the commute,” which is already a daily activity for many folks who live in the Ranson/Charles Town area.
The Green Corridor/Commuter Center design work will be combined with the drafting of a new regulatory plan to guide growth in harmony with what people love about the region and with what draws them to the area to live and to start businesses.
You can read all about these goals in the column to the immediate right and check out opportunities to participate in the idea-testing and refining that will take place during workshop week here.
Join us in person when you can. And by all means, follow the workshop’s progress here on this website. From September 9 to September 15, we’ll be posting the latest news, interviews and design ideas every day.