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City wants VDOT to share funding

October 12, 2012 12:10 am



Fredericksburg officials are looking to fill a nearly $6 million funding gap for the planned widening project on Fall Hill Avenue.

Getting a revenue sharing grant with the state might be the way the city does it.

The city plans to submit an application for the state grant to help cover the estimated $5.76 million increase in the project, which isn't expected to start for several years. The revenue sharing grant would allow the city to split the costs with the Virginia Department of Transportation, according to City Council documents.

The project's total estimated cost now stands at $41 million.

If the city can't get additional funding, the widening project would be scaled back.

The council plans to vote on the grant application at its Oct. 23 meeting.

The city will hold a public meeting to give an update on the widening project on Oct. 30 at Lafayette Upper Elementary School. The meeting will run from 5 to 8 p.m.

Contractor Kimley-Horn and Associates informed the city of the cost increases in the summer.

Issues with utilities, right-of-way acquisition, engineering work as well as environmental, cultural and historical impact studies are some of the causes for the increased estimate.

The project is broken into phases. The first 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 extending Mary Washington Boulevard to connect it with Fall Hill near the Rappahannock Canal bridge.

The project's preliminary schedule calls for construction to begin sometime around mid-2015. It could take two years to finish.

The city is handling the first 30 percent of the project design, then will hand it over to VDOT.

Another Fall Hill Avenue project, the canal bridge replacement, shouldn't be affected by any issues with the widening project.

Work on the bridge is supposed to start in January and the schedule calls for shutting down Fall Hill Avenue at the bridge until November.

The project will replace the current 1950s-era, weight-restricted bridge and add a pedestrian path beneath it, which will allow people to avoid having to cross Fall Hill.

Sidewalks will be added to the bridge, which will be slightly elevated to accommodate pedestrians on the path. Workers also will add a second footbridge crossing the canal.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

PROJECT: Plans call for widening the road to four lanes, adding sidewalks and replacing the Interstate 95 bridge.

TIMELINE: The project could begin in early 2015. MEETING: City officials will host a public meeting from 5 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 30 at Lafayette Upper Elementary School.

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