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Raleigh Street work to begin this fall

March 12, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Construction of the long-planned Raleigh Street "extension" is expected to begin this fall, Mayor George Karos announced Thursday evening.

"To me, that's about the best news we've had for years," Karos said of the Martinsburg road construction project that has been talked about for many years.

The Hagerstown/Eastern Panhandle Metropolitan Planning Organization notified the city Thursday that $15.5 million had been "programmed" for building about a half-mile section of the highway from the intersection of U.S. 11 and W.Va. 9 on Edwin Miller Boulevard to Tavern Road, Karos said.

The road is envisioned to provide an alternative north-south connection into downtown Martinsburg between West Race Street and Edwin Miller Boulevard. North Queen Street, the city's only north-south route, has long spurred emergency response concerns. There also is limited height clearance for commercial vehicles at the railroad bridge that crosses over the road.

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Plans and right-of-way work is expected to be completed by the end of July, with the start of construction estimated to begin in late October, Karos said.

The estimated completion date for the section is October 2011, Karos said.

The project has been estimated to cost about $32.5 million and city officials have secured $29.1 million for the work.

Karos credited the efforts of state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, for setting up a meeting with state officials that seemed to get the project moving.

The mayor also noted the supportive efforts of Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and the Berkeley County Commission in obtaining money for the project.

"Without a team effort, we wouldn't be where we are today," said Karos, who added that he hoped to be out at the construction site soon to "turn some dirt."

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