By Alex Bridges -- email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- State transportation officials gave the green light to fund a road to connect two major routes in Front Royal and Warren County.
Town officials announced last week they received confirmation from the Virginia Department of Transportation that the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved Front Royal's request to help fund the proposed Leach Run Parkway. VDOT will commit $6 million toward the design and construction of the $12 million project through the state agency's revenue sharing program, according to Town Manager Steven Burke.
Town Council also heard about the recent confirmation Monday from Jennifer McDonald, executive director of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority.
The town and county entered into a memorandum of understanding to agree to share the cost of the Leach Run Parkway based upon the EDA's Fair Funding Formula for projects, Burke stated in the e-mail. Proffers received toward the parkway's construction will offset the cost of the project, according to Burke.
Leach Run Parkway calls for a four-lane, limited-access road from John Marshall Highway to Happy Creek Road. The route would include bicycle lanes and separate pedestrian paths. The parkway aims to provide a dedicated road that would improve access to the eastern side of Front Royal and areas of Warren County, including Warren County High School.
The parkway also would serve as a connector from Va. 55 (John Marshall Highway) to the Happy Creek Technology Park, according to Doug Stanley, county administrator for Warren County. The EDA owns undeveloped land in the technology park.
"To handle the projected traffic growth and development in the Happy Creek area we need to be able to make this connection," Stanley said Tuesday.
Leach Run Parkway as proposed spans approximately 1.4 miles, according to Stanley. Another shorter section not included in the current revenue sharing project would extend the parkway across the railroad tracks in Happy Creek by way of a fly-over.
As Stanley explained, the town and county began looking at the connector road nearly 20 years ago. The town acquired a portion of the right-of-way needed, according to Stanley. The project picked up steam a few years ago. The town and county asked the EDA to acquire the remaining right-of-way, Stanley said.
Officials expect the final design to take nine to 12 months and construction likely would begin in 2013, Burke stated by e-mail Monday. Stanley explained the project planning also involves studying the environmental impact of the road and the needed bridge over Leach Run.
Stanley also explained that the project funding formula calls for the county to cover 66 percent of the cost while the town would pay 34 percent.
The adjacent Swan Run development also plans to pay $4 million in proffers toward the project, Stanley explained.
County and town staff plan to meet with the EDA next week to discuss the project, according to Burke. As work on the project moves forward, town officials anticipate a public information meeting on Leach Run Parkway would be held during the final design and construction process.