MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — About $1.3 million in pedestrian safety and aesthetic improvements at Martinsburg's town square remain on track for completion by this fall, officials said Tuesday.
A pre-construction meeting with Nitro, W.Va.-based Triton Construction is expected to be held early next month, according to state Division of Highways area construction engineer Kenneth L. Clohan.
Triton's bid, the lowest of three submitted, was nearly $500,000 higher than what had been allocated for the project, according to figures released Tuesday by City Manager Mark Baldwin.
State and city officials, however, have agreed to fund the entire project as advertised, including a fountain and other "alternate" features of the square's redesign, Baldwin and Clohan said.
To close the funding gap, the state agreed to provide 80 percent of the funding and the city is contributing the remainder, according to Baldwin.
The city's additional funding obligation for the project is expected to range between $99,000 to $153,000. Added with previous grant matching money, the city's total financial outlay is expected to range between $272,209 and $326,409, according to Baldwin's figures.
"They're going to give me a final number in a supplemental agreement," Baldwin said.
The additional money will come from the city's general development reserve fund or funds left over from other projects, Baldwin said.
Baldwin said the city is "very appreciative" of the state's decision to shoulder the bulk of the additional cost for the project, which is projected to be finished by Halloween.
Clohan said he doesn't expect the project will cause significant traffic detours other than the closure of East King Street in the 100 block.
The town square project has been several years in the making, but two grants — a $300,000 transportation enhancement award and $329,000 in federal stimulus funding — essentially jump started the project toward completion.
Several months before bids were opened on April 26, the project at the intersection of Queen and King streets was projected to cost about $780,000.
Clohan said Tuesday he did not have information that would help explain the project's cost. City officials speculated that the project's complexity and the timing of the advertisement may have been factors in the bid results.
Part of the city's downtown plan adopted in 2004, the square redesign includes new landscaping, green spaces in the 100 block of east King Street and a small amphitheater-like stage for performances.
A statue of city founder Revolutionary War Maj. Gen. Adam Stephen that was envisioned in the design was not included in the advertisement because the Transportation Enhancement and American Recovery and Reinvestment grant awarded for the project cannot be used to fund art, consulting engineer Matthew Grove has said.
The fountain is to be part of a boulevard-like feature that is expected to divide traffic lanes on East King Street and improve pedestrian safety for the crosswalk there.
The proposed project design presented to city leaders last summer proposed the creation of about one-quarter of an acre of green space on the north and south sides of East King Street.