Parkway project scaled back, over budget

FRONT ROYAL – The Leach Run Parkway project remains over budget despite efforts to scale back the design.

Pennoni Associaties originally designed Leach Run Parkway as a 1.3-mile,  four lane highway divided by a median that would connect Happy Creek Road to Va. 55 East (John Marshall Highway).

Town Council heard Tuesday that Pennoni Associates reduced project’s scope to bring the cost closer to the amount budgeted by the Front Royal Warren County Economic Development Authority. The total contract, if awarded, still comes in at $3.6 million over the project budget.

The redesigned parkway calls for a four lane, divided highway from John Marshall Highway to New Hope Bible Church on North Lake Avenue. The parkway narrows to two lanes divided by the median from the church to the area of the planned second middle school. The road then widens to four lanes from the school to its connection at Happy Creek Road. The contractor will grade the additional two lanes on the narrower section of the parkway but leave them unpaved until funds become available.

The plan is to apply to the Virginia Department of Transportation in November for funds through its cost-sharing program to cover the project’s remaining portion, including the paving of the other two lanes. Additionally, to save costs, the contractor will install conduit for streetlights but not the lighting itself. The contractor also will not install vegetation along the route and the drainage system will be less expensive but not as environmentally conservative as originally planned.

Roanoke-based Branch Highways Inc. submitted a base bid of $12.31 million earlier this summer. The EDA had set an overall project budget of $12 million that included $8 million for construction costs.

Branch’s total bid of $13.6 million includes an entrance for the new Warren County Middle School and utility lines along the path of the project. The redesigned, scaled-back version lowered the base amount to $10.64 million and the total potential award to $11.61 million.

The project also includes the construction of a bridge over Leach Run along with  grading and site work, Town Manager Steve Burke noted.

The town would cover $2.67 million of the total cost, including the entire $868,225 for the waterline covered under Front Royal’s water fund. The county would cover $3.61 million of the cost while VDOT would pay the remaining $5.32 million.

The town can expect to pay $180,000 per year toward its share of the debt for the project under the financing plan. The county would pay about $348,000 per year. The town collects about $75,000 in taxes each year that it dedicates toward the project.

The town also is anticipating that the HEPTAD or Swan Estates property, once fully developed, will generate $6 million in revenue through proffers. That revenue would go toward the town and county’s shares of the project cost.

VDOT has approved the $5.3 million to cover its share of the cost.

The contractor has advised the EDA that its bid remains valid through the end of the month, Burke said. Council could accept the original bid as submitted by Branch at its Sept. 28 meeting and authorize the EDA to enter into the agreement to move forward with construction. Branch then would submit a change order adjusting the cost to the latest figure. The county Board of Supervisors would consider the bid at its Sept. 22 meeting. The EDA meets Sept. 25 to consider the bid.

If awarded the contract, Branch anticipates it would begin some of the grading this year, Burke said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or

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