Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect the full scope of work on Conner Drive, to include a complete reconstruction of the street, including a connection with Euclid Drive
Manassas Park officials are questioning why a small street project’s cost has ballooned into millions of dollars.
City applied for funding for the project in 2011 when the whole thing was only estimated to cost $400,000. However, as the scope of the project has grown, so has the price tag.
By 2017 the cost grew to $1.4 million, which the city was able to cover due to applications for both state and local funds and were ready to go by 2018. But costs grew again after the Virginia Department of Transportation requested that Manassas Park revise their estimate “due to the rising costs of transportation-related construction in Northern Virginia.”
Between construction costs, the deteriorating condition of Conner Drive, wetlands mitigation, utility relocation costs, and increased scope for design and consultation, the project has ballooned to $2.6 million.
After the revelation of these factors, Manassas Park City Council member Donald Shuemaker expressed concern with the whole project. Many residents say they want the road repaved, and he’s had to explain to them how the city doesn’t have the money for repaving, nevermind the funds to extend the street.
“When we talk to residents this isn’t what they want, they want repaving of roads, and we tell them we don’t have more money to do that with. This is a million dollars, this is four times what we spend on repaving.
That’s not even the total cost of the project that the additional money we need to pump into it to get it to work with the way it’s structured but we tell people we don’t have any money. That’s actually a false statement, we do have money, we’re just not using it for that purpose.
That is one of the number one things I hear people say is that we need more repaving and this project has just ballooned even from the last time you presented it three years ago, now it’s a million dollars more.”
Shuemaker also said the project is sucking up transportation funds. Meanwhile, the city is money was focused on developing a new downtown area surrounding its city hall and Virginia Railway Express station, he said. Many city streets are in poor condition, he adds.
Shuemaker also commented on the wisdom of the extension with concern that Conner Drive could become a main thoroughfare not just for Manassas Park but for many residents of Prince William County, as drivers would use it as a cut-through to avoid police speed enforcement on nearby Manassas Drive.
City Manager Laszlo Palko said that the Connor Drive extension’s purpose was to ease traffic from Manassas Drive.
The governing body ultimately voted to allow the city manager to modify the agreement with the state’s Transporation agency. The costs of the Conner Drive extension would reflect the new total of $2.6 million. Manassas Park will pay $965,000 from its Northern Virginia Transportation Authority local fund balance to cover the cost.