Council OKs steps for road projects

FRONT ROYAL – Town Council took action Monday to move several road projects forward.

Council approved an application to the Virginia Department of Transportation for an additional $5 million through its cost-sharing program to cover the remaining, estimated cost to build the Leach Run Parkway. The town and county will split the cost of the local match per a fair-funding formula.

The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority, council and the Board of Supervisors awarded the contract to build the project as designed, minus the landscaping and street lighting, and to reduce the road from four lanes to two in the center. The town has agreed to ask VDOT for the remaining funds needed to complete the project as originally designed.

The project bid came in well over the estimated budget. Parties agreed to award the contract and to submit a change order that would reflect the reduced scope of the project. The $5 million in cost-sharing funds are expected to cover the rest of the project as well as to buy the right-of-way from the EDA.

Councilman Eugene Tewalt recalled that the idea for Leach Run Parkway originated in 1989. Tewalt said he was glad the project is moving forward.

Council also approved a request for $187,500 through VDOT’s cost-sharing program for the reconstruction of South Commerce Avenue. VDOT determined that the town must reconstruct the road from Main Street to John Marshall Highway in order to receive urban maintenance funding. The project should cost an estimated $375,000.

Council voted to amend the budget to reflect $24,793 carried forward from the previous year to cover the cost to design a new bridge on Criser Road. The action also called for the budget to reflect $19,750 to account for VDOT money through its cost-sharing program. Council also awarded the contract to Mattern & Craig to design the preliminary engineering report for the project.

The town set up a cost-sharing project with VDOT to rebuild the bridge at an estimated cost of $450,000. Council interviewed firms interested in designing the project at its July 6 meeting and directed staff to negotiate a fee with Mattern & Craig. During negotiations, staff met with VDOT and determined that the initial design should be limited to the preliminary engineering report to evaluate the hydraulic and floodplain characteristics to determine the final design requirements. Mattern & Craig proposed a design scope. Once complete, staff plans to negotiate a fee based on the findings in the report.

Also at the meeting, council:
• Approved a bid from WatchGuard Video for $96,545 to purchase 10 in-car camera systems, one motorcycle camera and 30 body cameras for the police department. The agency plans to cover the cost with $56,545 in its equipment budget and $30,000 from asset forfeiture funds. The amount includes one year of support and service. Maintenance for subsequent years will cost $13,000-$14,000. WatchGuard Video is based in Allen, Texas. Their bid met all 109 specifications. Digital Ally, based in Lenexa, Kansas, bid $80,795, but 39 out of 109 items didn’t meet specifications. Councilman John Connolly said he was happy the town had reached a point where it could buy the cameras. Councilwoman Bébhinn Egger voted against the motion and said she doesn’t support the use of asset forfeiture funds to buy the equipment and feels that 30 cameras are too many.

• Approved an amendment to the fiscal 2016 budget to reflect purchase orders left over from previous cycles and a short-term loan provided to the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority. The total amount of $62.55 million includes $47.56 million for the sewer fund and the $10 million loan to the EDA. No one spoke during the public hearing held on the matter. Council needed to hold the hearing given the amount of money reflected in the purchase orders and loan.

• Approved a resolution of support and commitment for the application to participate in the Virginia Main Street Program through the Department of Housing and Community Development. Council is committing to the shared financial support with the county for the first three years. Total spending through funding and in-kind services is estimated at $100,000 per year.

• Approved a resolution to establish the 2015 Home Decorating Contest sponsored by the town on its Facebook page with awards going to the top three homes that receive the most votes.

• Approved a resolution to set up a capital improvement project sign program to highlight major initiatives undertaken in town.

• Accepted a donation of candy valued about $250 for the Hometown Halloween event scheduled for Saturday from Skyline High School’s Friends of Rachel’s Club for use by the participating businesses and groups.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com