Parkway project contract awarded

FRONT ROYAL – After months and years of planning, the town of Front Royal and County of Warren appear set to begin work on the Leach Run Parkway project.

The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority voted unanimously to approve a construction bid award to Manassas-based Branch Highways Inc.

The award amount will include $12.3 million for the construction of the road and an additional $868,225 for the construction of waterlines.

Warren County Administrator Doug Stanley said the reaming shortfall for the project is around $2 million.

“We’ve had to do a lot of adjusting. Thanks to our engineer, we scoped it to be able to fit it within the funds that are available to move forward,” he said.

Earlier this month, the town and county approved an amended memorandum of understanding for the cost sharing in order to reduce the project’s scope and size. Branch’s initial bid on the project came in over budget by $3.6 million.

Part of what has been excluded from the initial construction includes the traffic lights, landscaping and reducing the amount of lanes in one section of the parkway.

“We’re putting the conduit in the ground, and we can come back and add the lights – whether it’s next year or sometime later,” Stanley said following Friday’s meeting.

A redesign of the planned parkway is now calling for a four-lane road stretching from John Marshall Highway to the New Hope Bible Church, where the road will then narrow to two lanes leading up to the new middle school.

Front Royal Town Manager Steve Burke noted that the entire length of the road will be graded for four lanes.

“The intent is that it will be completed, it’s just a manner of funding right now.”

Burke noted that the town will be applying for additional revenue share funding through the Virginia Department of Transportation in November.

“They will not award that until July. We should get notice in May if they think it’s going to go through,” Burke said, noting that they will be looking to covering the entire remaining cost of the project.

“If funding doesn’t come through this time with VDOT, the intent is that we will continue to seek additional revenue,” Burke said.

Stanley said they are still looking for a day to break ground on the project in the next several weeks – once the contractor is able to get on site and “get the erosion control measures in place.”

The adjustments, Stanley said, “Allows the project to move forward, it allows us to have that road completed and open by the time snow flies in 2016 – which means the road will be ready when the school opens in 2017.”

The completed project, Stanley said, “will help alleviate traffic on Happy Creek Road, Commerce Avenue and (U.S.) Route 55 in town … it’ll reduce travel time for parents bringing kids to Warren County High School.”

Meanwhile, construction at the second middle school has begun, according to Greg Drescher, superintendent of Warren County Public Schools.

He said they hope to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the new school at 10 a.m. Oct. 15.

“We’re checking with the contractor, with (Warren County) Board of Supervisors and making sure that that suits everybody,” Drescher said.

Drescher said, “We’re very excited. It’s been a long time coming, and a lot of people have worked very hard to make this happen.”

Drescher noted that they “pretty much need Leach Parkway project” to open the middle school, since the main entrance is off of the planned parkway.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com