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Council weighs options on Raleigh extension plan

November 07, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The options for extending Raleigh Street in Martinsburg to Edwin Miller Boulevard preferred by city leaders include bridge spans over railroads and avoiding an impact on historic areas along Boyd Avenue and Aspen Hall.

City Council members unanimously recommended Monday that West Virginia Division of Highways officials consider constructing elements of "Option 3 and 3B," a fairly straight version of the Raleigh Street extension that would affect only one baseball field at Oatesdale Park. Council member Betty Gunnoe was absent.

City Council also asked DOH officials to consider including a bridge span over the Winchester & Western railroad track near West Race Street and evaluate intersection improvements at the future road's intersection with the Boulevard and U.S. 11.

Bridge spans for the CSX Transportation crossing at Tavern Road and the Winchester & Western siding track near Tavern Road are already part of either Option 3 or 3B. A span over Tuscarora Creek near Oatesdale Park and a realignment of route's intersection with Tavern Road at the CSX crossing are part of Option 3, which was projected to cost about $27 million, according to DOH documents.

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The council's recommendation, expected to be formally approved at this month's regular meeting, also appears to have accommodated the concerns of the Berkeley County Landmarks Commission, which objected to Option 4's proximity to the historic sites. City officials also were informed that the Martinsburg Little League Association was amenable to Option 3 and 3B, Baldwin said. The displaced ballfield would be relocated with highway project funds.

Councilman Donald Anderson questioned whether city officials should continue with their push for a four-lane route, doubting how traffic at the southern connection of the extension at the intersection of Race and Raleigh streets could be accommodated.

"There may not be room for four lanes all the way," Anderson said.

Anderson suggested that a reduction in traffic lanes also could result in reduced cost, so "that way we can go ahead and get it started."

Though a four-lane route was requested, City Manager Mark Baldwin told Anderson that state DOH engineers might ultimately discover through the design process that the number of lanes should be reduced, possibly to a three-lane route with a turning option in the center, among other possibilities.

Councilwoman Shari Persad said whatever route is chosen, she would like the road engineers to build a highway with the area's growth in mind, especially considering what happened to the Foxcroft Avenue development.

"That is a mess out there," Persad said.

City leaders have about $12.7 million earmarked for the project, which officials believe is enough to design and purchase land for the route.

Baldwin confirmed after the meeting that city leaders have asked about the possibility of reallocating about $13 million already earmarked for the proposed W.Va. 9 bypass around Martinsburg, a project projected by the DOH to cost more than $100 million.

"I think that would probably take some congressional action..." Baldwin said.

Baldwin said discussions with Berkeley County leaders and other officials would have to take place if any such reallocation request is ever made.

No action has been taken by city leaders in that regard, he said.

The public is invited to submit comments on the Raleigh Street extension project to the Division of Highways on or before Nov. 22 to Grey L. Bailey, P.E., Director, West Virginia Division of Highways, State Capitol Complex, Building 5, Room A-317, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, Charleston, WV 25305-0430.

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