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Route 1 Undergrounding Project May Not Happen

Based on what we’re learning from the SHA, the undergrounding utilities project on Route 1 may not happen.

The State Highway Administration (SHA) has recently asked for a commitment from the City by June 8 to fully fund the underground utility relocation (minus the SHA estimated cost of aerial relocation) associated with the reconstruction of US 1 from Lakeland Road to MD 430 (Greenbelt Road).

Unfortunately the current estimated cost is huge ($14,973,000) and the City cannot afford such a huge cost alone at this time.

Here is a little background – the City signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SHA on August 11, 2014. The MOU states that the City shall have the right to terminate the design of the undergrounding anytime and provide SHA with a 2-week notice to do so with no further obligations to SHA after paying SHA for the completed or initiated design prior to termination. SHA shall provide the City with undergrounding design plans up to the point of termination.

The MOU requires SHA to provide the City with 5 sets of design plans and estimates for review and comment at the preliminary investigation stage, the final review stage, the plans, specifications and estimate phase and the constructability review stage. There were no timetables or performance schedules stated in the MOU.

On February 25, 2015, the City received 30% design plans and requested a meeting with SHA to review them. This meeting was held on March 31, 2015. At that time, the City was informed that the utility companies were not fully on board with their resources to design for both aerial and underground relocations because the project wasn’t funded for construction and they typically would not design for both. On May 1, 2015, at the City’s request an updated utility undergrounding estimate was provided.

To date, the SHA has billed the City for $51,273 of the total $300,000 design cost, and according to our staff, the ultimate design cost will go up to $150,000.

The Council will ask the SHA to come to one of our future worksessions and update us about the entire project.


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  1. Fazlul, was there ever a response to the letter the Council sent to SHA, dated May 13, 2014? It was the 2014 Item 14-G-52. The City stated its position quite clearly in that letter, but if there was a response, I can’t find it in the packet materials online. I know we ultimately signed an MOU in August, but even that agreement states that we make no promise to fund construction, so it seems like sometime in the past 10 months, they could have raised the alert about the need for us to secure construction funding, before they announced they had completed 65% of the design, but couldn’t actually finish this $300,000 project. The agenda link to 14-G-52, and a copy of the draft letter, is in this packet:

  2. Fazlul Kabir

    Hi Matt, Let me check and get back to you. Thanks.

  3. Fazlul Kabir

    I checked with staff. The City did not receive a response to this letter. The City however, began working on a MOU for the undergrounding design, which was signed on August 11, 2014

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