After the bids were opened on June 2, Walker said Pro Contracting's bid fell within the state's estimates, but later noted that a glitch in the state agency's bidding system delayed the awarding of the contract.
The second contract for the Raleigh Street project has yet to be advertised, according to Walker. The state is awaiting a Right-of-Way certificate, which would give the agency the "all clear" to proceed, Walker said. Officials expect that to happen toward the end of July, Walker said.
The advancement of the Raleigh Street Extension project comes as city officials move forward on additional road and infrastructure improvements that will tie into the north end of the new connector.
On Tuesday, City Manager Mark Baldwin said the city closed on a $3.1 million bond issue that will pay for the cost of the total design of the "Lutz Avenue Connection," a route that will tie into the Raleigh Street Extension and run parallel with Edwin Miller Boulevard before eventually feeding into it.
MVB bank, formerly Monongahela Valley Bank, was the successful bidder, offering a 4.47 percent interest rate for financing the bond issue over 15 years, Baldwin said.
The bond issue is being paid for with tax revenue collected from a group of properties along the Raleigh Street/Lutz Avenue corridor that are now in a Tax Increment Finance district. The TIF district-generated money is restricted for infrastructure improvements to help develop the acreage along the corridor. The most notable pending development in the district is Meridian Pointe, a mixed-use commerical development by developers Matt Powell and Thomas Burke.
The first work being done in the TIF district is the extension of a water line for the new Schewels furniture store, which Baldwin said is expected to open this fall near Meridian Parkway and Lutz Avenue.
To maximize development potential and most effectively use the bond money, Powell confirmed Tuesday that the next improvements in the TIF district will be in two L-shaped project areas. They include construction of portions of the Lutz Avenue Connection and improvement of intersecting roads, Courthouse Drive and Meridian Parkway. What is now known as Forbes Drive also will be improved, but its planned connection to Lutz Avenue is not expected to be made until additional TIF money is available, according to Baldwin
Lutz Avenue is expected to be a three-lane road with curb and gutter, sidewalks, bike paths, stormwater management, utilities, street lighting and landscaping and roundabout intersections, according to a project description released by the city last week.
Powell, who is vice president of development for Potomac Professional Services LLC, said the company is the contract and construction administrator for the projects and has been working with Thrasher Engineering on the design work.
Because the total project has been estimated to cost about $10 million, Powell said the available bond money was split between the acreage controlled by Powell's company and adjoining property controlled by Burke of Meridian Development.
While banks have been cautious to lend for new development and the economy has languished, Powell said the Raleigh Street Extension's recent progress has helped spurred interest.
"I think things are starting to look better," Powell said. "We see some positive things happening."