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Raleigh Street Extension discussed at workshop

October 18, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.- West Virginia Division of Highways officials could potentially begin to buy land to extend North Raleigh Street to Edwin Miller Boulevard (W.Va. 9) in Martinsburg by the end of 2007, Gregory L. Bailey, the state agency's engineering division director, said Tuesday.

Though not fully funded, a consultant to design the Raleigh Street Extension road construction project is expected to be hired by the end of this year, Bailey said at a public informational workshop at Eagle School Intermediate.

About $12.7 million earmarked for the project designed to relieve congestion on North Queen Street and downtown will probably pay for all of the engineering and right-of-way purchases, Bailey said. The estimated cost for the six, four-lane build options range from $24.7 million to $44.6 million.

In addition to a $10 million appropriation announced in 2005 by U.S Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, a $1 million appropriation for the project overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives in June is pending in the U.S. Senate, a spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito said Tuesday.

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A vote on that earmark is not expected until after the November general election, Jordon Stoick said.

A written environmental assessment of the Raleigh Street Extension project build options by GAI Consultants Inc. provided at the workshop Tuesday shows the proximity of the extension options to Meadowbrook subdivision, Oatesdale Park, Martinsburg's water treatment plant, the Boyd Avenue neighborhood, and Fairlawn Gardens and Washington Mews residential complexes.

Destiny Baptist Church pastors Carl Que Hickerson and Ronald Paige attended the workshop in the school's gymnasium to see how the various extension options jibe with the congregation's "Destiny Point" development project.

Church leaders recently agreed to sell up to five acres of about 33 they own near the eExtension's proposed intersection with Edwin Miller Boulevard to make way for a 60,000-square-foot U.S. Coast Guard facility. A sketch of that plan, including 290 parking spaces, was received by the city's planning department Tuesday.

Destiny Point also includes plans for a 1,500-seat sanctuary, and commercial and recreational development, Hickerson said.

"We're in the same stages of getting site plan approval," Hickerson said. "We'll be ready to break ground in the first quarter of next year."

The congregation's church at 115 Raleigh St. now is too small for the 300 to 400 people who attend Sunday services at Martinsburg High School, Hickerson said.

"We consider this tract of land to be our gift to the community," Hickerson said of the church development project.

In addition to cultural resources potentially affected, like historic Aspen Hall and neighboring Boyd Avenue historic district structures, the environmental assessment identified 15 possible hazardous waste sites in the vicinity of the project routes.

Whether the sites actually are contaminated will be determined early in the design process, Bailey said.

The assessment indicates only one of the six options proposed does not impact Oatesdale Park in some way and Bailey said highway officials would have to compensate for that.

"The question is how significant are (the impacts) ... to what level do they rise," Bailey said.

Some of the build options affect the church project more than others, but Hickerson did not offer any pointed concerns about any of them.

City Manager Mark Baldwin said Mayor George Karos and council members likely will recommend the state choose a particular option for the extension in the coming weeks.

Individuals who would like to submit written comments should send them to Gregory L. Bailey by Nov. 22, to West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways, State Capitol Complex, Building 5, Room A-317, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, WV, 25305-0430.

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