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Martinsburg town square to close again

Crews will reconfigure and replace brick pavers installed this summer

September 27, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Motorists are expected to be detoured around Martinsburg's town square for five to seven days beginning Oct. 5 so crews can reconfigure and replace brick pavers installed this summer as part of a pedestrian safety improvement project.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Motorists are expected to be detoured around Martinsburg's town square for five to seven days beginning Oct. 5 so crews can reconfigure and replace brick pavers installed this summer as part of a pedestrian safety improvement project.

The intersection of West King and Queen streets will be closed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the West Virginia Division of Highways announced Tuesday.

Access to all businesses will be maintained, but motorists traveling through Martinsburg on W.Va. 9 and U.S. 11 in downtown will be advised to follow detours along Wilson, Raleigh and Race streets.

Daniel Watts, acting area DOH engineer for the Eastern Panhandle, said that barring inclement weather, he does not anticipate the remedial work would cause any significant impact on the project's completion, which is to be done by Nov. 30.

The project was initially projected by state transportation officials to be complete by Oct. 31, according to the state's notice to contractors in April.

Bricks laid in August for the new crosswalks at town square in Martinsburg have become uneven and displaced, spurring officials to explore options to correct the problem.

The corrective action includes replacement of the bricks in the crosswalk with concrete pavers, Watts said. Concrete pavers that were used in the intersection will be relaid in a different pattern and a new bedding material will be used to improve drainage, Watts said.

Financed primarily with state and federal grant money, the $1.6 million pedestrian safety project includes $322,700 from the City of Martinsburg.

Brent Walker, spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Transportation, said Tuesday that the state would pay to fix the pavers, but indicated the state still intends to revisit the accountability issue when the project is done.

"We don't want to hold up this project," Walker said.  

Walker said the additional cost could be offset by contingency funds that the state has set aside for the project.

Contingency funding is routinely budgeted for DOH projects and usually is 4 percent of what the successful contractor bids, said Deputy State Highway Engineer Darrell Allen.

Triton Construction Inc., which was the low bidder among three contractors, submitted a $1,360,180 bid, according to DOH bid results released April 26.

Allen could not say how accurate DOH estimates have generally been over the years or how often the contingency funding is needed in projects.

"It's probably something we should better monitor," Allen said.

The square's planned closing follows a three-week closure in July and August that was to allow contractors to expedite work in advance of the first day of school in Berkeley County and Bike Night in downtown Martinsburg.

City officials pushed for the work to be scheduled between Main Street Martinsburg's seventh annual Chili Cook-off Saturday and the annual Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival grand feature parade on Oct. 15.

Aside from the town square pedestrian project, Watts said Tuesday that two sections of the state's other major construction project in Martinsburg — the Raleigh Street extension — are expected to be completed next year.

A third section of the 1.2-mile project between West Race Street and Edwin Miller Boulevard has yet to start due to utility location issues, but Watts said he expected they will be resolved soon.

The north-end section of the project, now about 30 percent complete, is slated to be done in May 2012, and the south-end section, which entails construction of a bridge over a railroad line, is to be completed by the end of October 2012, Watts said.

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