Leach Run Parkway work begins this week

FRONT ROYAL – Construction of the long-awaited Leach Run Parkway begins this week and is slated for completion by early November.

Branch Highways is expected to start preliminary work on the connector road today, Jennifer McDonald, executive director of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority said on Friday. County Administrator Doug Stanley said Branch Highways received the notice to proceed late last week.

The $13.18 million project calls for the construction of a four-lane road, divided by a median, which connects Happy Creek Road with John Marshall Highway. The parkway, designed by Pennoni Associates Inc., includes sidewalks, a stormwater drainage system, landscaping and trees.

The contract calls for completion of the project by early November, though the timing also depends on the weather.

The firm’s contractor in charge of clearing the site will begin working at the end near Happy Creek Road, Josiah Menking, project manager with Branch Highways, said Friday. Some operations will take place on the end near John Marshall, Menking said.

“There are some operations through the winter that the terrain and the environment might not allow us to work on the Leach Run Parkway itself and there’s some work off John Marshall and Happy Creek that needs to be done so that might take place this winter,” Menking said.

Stanley said he doesn’t expect much to happen in the first week or so of work given the holiday and hunting season. Stanley said the contract also calls for crews to work from the north end to the south end of the route.

McDonald said she doesn’t expect any of the preliminary work to affect traffic on John Marshall Highway or Happy Creek Road. Crews won’t likely start working in the areas of the existing rights-of-way until sometime next year, Stanley said.

“And there will be notice when we get to that point,” McDonald said.

The route runs by the site for the new middle school, construction of which began recently, as well as property owned by Valley Health and land considered for future development by HEPTAD.

Stanley gave a brief update on the project to town and county leaders at a Liaison Committee meeting Thursday. Workers are expected to begin clearing the site and conducting demolition next week. Crews can perform some of the work, such as install the necessary box culvert, during the winter months, Stanley said.

The construction timeline shows crews finishing up the project in early November.

“It’s a great example of the town and county and EDA all working together,” Stanley said.

Town Council, the county Board of Supervisors and the EDA board of directors awarded the contract to Branch Highways, a member of The Branch Group, based in Roanoke. The EDA board of directors adopted a resolution authorizing its Chairwoman Patricia Wines, Vice Chairman Greg Drescher and/or McDonald to execute the documents related to the bid award.

The $13.18 million cost includes $12.31 million for the construction of the road and $868,225 to build the waterline along the route.

The low bid came in well above the construction cost as budgeted. Parties agreed to reduce the scope of the project and thereby lowering the cost to near the original budget. Parties agreed to then apply for additional money through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s cost-sharing program.

Even though the EDA is heading up the project, VDOT is playing a role in the initiative. VDOT also had to approve much of the plans for the project.

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