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Estimate for road widening escalates

February 17, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A plan to widen a section of the busy Edgewood Drive to five lanes and improve an intersection at U.S. 40 will cost $5 million to $6 million more than originally estimated, meaning Washington County, the City of Hagerstown and the state will have to fork over more money for the project.

County Public Works Director Gary Rohrer said the cost of the project is now $11.3 million, up from an earlier price tag of $5 million to $6 million.

The cost increased because of higher land acquisition costs and increased utility and traffic control costs associated with the project.

The project would widen Edgewood Drive to five lanes between Mount Aetna Road and U.S. 40, known as Dual Highway, according to the county's fiscal years 2006-2011 Capital Improvement Program.

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The improvements are needed because of continued development in the area, the budget states.

State Highway Administration statistics show that 30,000 vehicles per day travel along U.S. 40 at that intersection now, but project that number could be double in 10 years.

The county tentatively has budgeted $3.75 million for its share of the project in the capital budget, up from the $1.15 million the county budgeted last year.

Of that amount, $1.99 million is budgeted for fiscal year 2006, which begins on July 1, and $1.7 million is budgeted for fiscal year 2007.

Rohrer said the county, state and city have each agreed in principle to pay 33 percent of the project's construction costs, although the agreement is not yet in writing.

"The city has not reneged," Rohrer told the commissioners on Tuesday. "That's going to be a bite for them as well."

Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said Wednesday that the city hasn't yet looked at the new cost of the project.

"We don't have a figure to even put in a budget yet," he said.

Breichner said he thinks the cost of the improvements might have risen because the state added an additional lane.

He said Edgewood originally was to be widened to four lanes, but a fifth lane was added after the state took into consideration that a shopping center, including a Wal-Mart store, might be built nearby.

"That, I believe, added to that cost," Breichner said. "That's not a bad idea, but the shopping center's not there. It may not be there, and maybe the shopping center should be the one that's paying part of it."

Breichner said he thinks the project is needed.

"It's long overdue. I think the people that use that intersection will agree with me," he said.

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