Early Service Road Costs Lower Than Initial Estimate

SNOW HILL – The first phase of the Route 50 service road project could come in under budget by as much as $260,000.

Phase 1A of the eagerly anticipated service road that will run south of Route 50, eventually from Holly Grove Rd. to Seahawk Rd., and access the Wal-Mart and Home Depot stores, should be completed this spring, said Worcester County Public Works Director John Tustin, and it will likely cost less than planned.

“Our best guess at this point is there will be an underrun on this project of $259,650,” Tustin reported to the County Commissioners this week.

Phase 1A put the focus on turning lanes on Route 50 and Holly Grove Rd., which will also be straightened to meet the as yet unbuilt service road traveling south.

Tustin was responding to a request the commissioners made in early December to be kept informed of pending change orders on capital projects. The commissioners told staff a month ago that they would like to be better informed on capital project finance changes so they have the background to make informed decisions later in the process.

Substantial amounts of money were saved on excavation and removing existing paving, curbs and gutters during the work on the Holly Grove Rd./Route 50 intersection and the road itself, the areas where this phase is concentrated.

Nearly the under-runs offset $90,000 in over-runs. Originally the project was expected to cost $1,354,000, but with the savings realized so far, that number is now $1,094,000.

While expenditures could still change over the next several weeks as Phase 1A is wrapped up, Tustin seemed optimistic some of the savings would hold up, though the final amount of underruns could be less or more than the sum reported this week.

The Route 50 service road has been in the works for several years, with the commissioners stepping in to construct the road after Maryland’s State Highway Administration refused to undertake the project.

The commissioners will pay for the project with Maryland highway user money, which is passed through to the county every year. The county has already put $3.2 million of the funding aside in recent years to pay for the road without going to the bond market. Some funding will come from Wal-Mart and Home Depot as well, county spokesperson Kim Moses said.

The entire service road is expected to be complete in five years.