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Fall Hill Avenue project budget increases by $10 million and officials aren't sure where they'll get that additional money
Date published: 7/13/2012
An updated estimate of the planned improvements to Fall Hill Avenue shows a funding gap of nearly $10 million, and Fredericksburg officials aren't sure where they'll find that additional money.
City officials, who recently got the update from Kimley-Horn and Associates, admitted that they'll be hard-pressed to get more funding in a climate of tight budgets. But they added that the major portions of the project that links U.S. 1 with Central Park and Celebrate Virginia commercial areas should continue on schedule.
"It's going to be hard to find that much," City Manager Bev Cameron said of the money that will be needed to complete the entire project. "We're trying to think through that right now."
The original estimate of the project was $36.6 million, which is the amount set aside by the state.
Issues with moving utilities, right-of-way acquisition, engineering work as well as environmental, cultural and historical impact studies are the primary causes for the increased estimate.
Doug Fawcett, director of Fredericksburg Public Works, said plans already called for the work to be done in phases, so a major parts of the project shouldn't be affected. The city is handling the first 30 percent of the project design, then will hand it over to the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The project's first phase will include widening the western portion of Fall Hill Avenue to four lanes, joining the section that already has been widened. Sidewalks and a trail also will be added and the bridge spanning Interstate 95 will be replaced.
The second phase of the project calls for widening the rest of Fall Hill and connecting Mary Washington Boulevard to Fall Hill Avenue.
The project's preliminary schedule calls for construction to begin between mid-2015 and 2017.
Because of the funding issue, Fawcett said there could end up being a gap of several years between the phases.
The canal bridge replacement project--which had nearly $200,000 added to its budget this week--is separate and won't be affected by the funding issue, said Fawcett.
Preliminary work on that project has already begun. Fawcett said the major work is on schedule to begin in January. Fall Hill is scheduled to be closed during the canal bridge project, which is expected to last into November 2013.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436