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September 10, 2018

Marshall Main Street upgrades meeting Tuesday

Partly because of soaring construction costs in recent years, Main Street's utility lines will remain above ground.
I think it has the potential to do some wonderful things for Marshall.
— Mary Leigh McDaniel, Marshall District supervisor
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Staff Journalist
The Marshall Business and Residents Association Tuesday night will host an update on the planned multimillion-dollar makeover of the Northern Fauquier village’s downtown.

The association's Sept. 11 meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Marshall Community Center at 4133 Rectortown Road.

Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel (Marshall District), county project manager and budget office Director Erin M. Kozanecki and design team consultants will explain the approximately $5-million proposal and answer audience questions.

The project will be funded largely with a $3.6-million federal grant administered through the Virginia Department of Transportation and $643,000 in county revenue generated by a special tax district. Fauquier's contribution represents a 20-percent match.

Fauquier must get VDOT approval to bid the construction project by Nov. 20, or it will lose federal funding and owe the government any funds subject to reimbursement.

“The engineering work is essentially done,” explained Supervisor McDaniel. “So we’re really at a point where it’s about 95 percent ready to go to bid.”

Work could begin next spring on the three- to four-month project, Ms. McDaniel said.

“It’s not the best time for businesses, necessarily, but it does cut the amount of construction time,” the supervisor said of such a schedule.

Merchants will be fully informed of how construction will affect their businesses, Mr. McDaniel added.

The project initially called for burying utility lines along the one-block project area of Main Street, between Winchester Road and Frost Avenue.

But that will not happen partly because of “dramatically increased” construction costs and VDOT’s decision to no longer fund the undergrounding of utilities, according to Ms. McDaniel.

Newer estimates for moving electrical, phone and cable TV lines underground and eliminating utility poles and other costs would have added $1.2 million to $1.6 million to the project’s total, she said.

“The construction costs over the last three years have ballooned,” Ms. McDaniel said.

Because VDOT no longer funds the undergrounding of utilities, property owners in the village’s special tax district that would benefit from the improvements would have to foot that expense.

That would be an impossible financial burden, Supervisor McDaniel said.

“It became painfully clear that the undergrounding wasn’t going to be possible at this time,” Ms. McDaniel explained. “So the decision was made (by the county board of supervisors) to go ahead and do the project, which is still around $5 million.”

Special district property landowners will have 2 cents added to their county real estate tax levy (98.2 cents this year). They already pay an extra 0.5-cent, per $100 assessed value, for streetlights in the village.

The extra tax will remain in effect for about 10 years to repay a zero-interest, $643,000 loan from the county. 

The project’s budget doesn’t include repaving Main Street.

The project will include:

• New sidewalks and crosswalks along Main Street from just east of Winchester Road (Route 17) to just west of Frost Avenue near the IGA.

• New sidewalks and crosswalks on Winchester Road.

• New lamps, benches and landscaping.

• A decorative, knee-high brick wall fronting the 7-Eleven at Rectortown Road and Main Street.

Related to though independent of the project, a developer proffer also will pay for $400,000 in utility and drainage work at Main Street and Frost Street.

“The project’s been going on for 10 years or so,” said Ms. McDaniel, a first-term supervisor. “It took a long time to kind of get the funding together."

But planned improvements will make sidewalks safer, clearly define street parking from Main Street’s traffic lanes, enhance the area’s appearance and bring more people and business to Marshall, she said.

“I think it has the potential to do some wonderful things for Marshall. It will go a long way towards helping it become the town that they envision themselves being.”
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