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City gets $1 million for Raleigh Street project

June 17, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The City of Martinsburg has received $1 million for the development of the city's Raleigh Street extension project, City Manager Mark Baldwin said.

"There's a lot of things going on ... the next year is going to be very important," said Baldwin, following an announcement Thursday that U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. had secured $1 million for the project from the 2007 Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development Appropriation bill. More than $14 million has been raised for the road project.

City officials hope to parlay Capito's $1 million into even more when the bill moves to the U.S. Senate, Baldwin said, adding Martinsburg Mayor George Karos wrote a letter to Sen. Robert Byrd D-W.Va., after learning of the House appropriation.

"We wanted to make sure that Senator Byrd knew that we were aware of the $1 million," Baldwin said. "Hopefully, he can get more funding along with the House version."

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In addition, West Virginia Commissioner of Highways Paul Mattox will propose moving the project into the state's six-year transportation plan, said Gregory L. Bailey, director of the Engineering Division for the state Division of Highways.

Much of the available funding comes from a $10 million federal appropriation earmarked last year by Byrd for the planned four-lane road project, which was supplemented with $2 million in state Department of Transportation funds and another $750,000 from the city.

Another source of funding could come from the Berkeley County Commission, thanks to legislation passed earlier this year that allows localities to assemble financing packages, such as public/private partnerships, that would be reviewed by a state transportation authority, said Del. Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson.

The proposed extension, which would begin at Raleigh Street's intersection at Race Street, will create a second downtown north-south route, helping to relieve traffic congestion on Queen Street. Set to follow one of four proposed routes, the extension would terminate at the intersection of Edwin Miller Boulevard and U.S. 11 on the north side of the city.

Baldwin said the road's projected cost has continued to grow, ballooning recently from $20 million to $33.5 million, largely as a result of 15 percent annual federal inflationary requirements.

While $14 million isn't enough money to complete the project, or even to begin to bid out construction work, it is enough to pay for engineering and environmental design work, public hearings and for securing public rights of way, Bailey said.

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