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Council gets update on intersection plan

June 20, 2007|by JOSHUA BOWMAN

During a joint meeting with the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday, the Washington County Commissioners updated council members on the U.S. 40/Edgewood Drive intersection project.

The cost of the project has risen $2 million since its initial estimate by the State Highway Administration. The SHA raised its estimate to $16.4 million in May, citing higher costs for paving and materials, plus overhead increases. Washington County Director of Special Projects Gary Rohrer and Hagerstown City Engineer Rodney Tissue made suggestions that brought the cost down to $14.4 million, but Rohrer said more can be done to reduce the project's cost.

"We're really hoping to encourage the SHA to back off the overhead markups. We're a long way from a final number on this," said Rohrer, who noted that the county is paying $2 million to improve conditions on Maugans Avenue.

The cost of the project is being split three ways by the state, the county and the city. Under the current agreement, the state will pay half the cost of the project, the county will pay 30 percent and the city will pay 20 percent. However, the city has capped its contribution at $2.4 million, which is less than 20 percent of the SHA's latest cost estimate.

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City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he was concerned about the SHA's estimate that right-of-way costs could increase as much as $6 million in anticipation of the new hospital. He said he did not think any right-of-way increases should be approved until a suit challenging Washington County Hospital's right to build at its new location is resolved.

Rohrer said city and county officials plan to meet with the SHA to discuss their concerns, which include a clause in the agreement that would allow the SHA to hold local shares of the Highway User Revenues in the event of payment disputes.

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