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Wise board eyes traffic improvement project for Big Stone Gap schools

January 31st, 2014 9:41 pm by Stephen Igo

Wise  board eyes traffic improvement project for Big Stone Gap schools

WISE — Maxim Engineering of Coeburn and Chilhowie-based W-L Construction & Paving Inc. gets first pass at contract negotiations with Wise County Public Schools for a traffic improvement project at the division’s three-school complex in Big Stone Gap.

The Wise County School Board met in special session on Thursday to consider proposals from Maxim and W-L Construction, and Jonesville-based Glass Machinery & Excavation and Thompson & Litton, an engineering architectural firm in Wise.

The board spent most of the two-hour special called meeting in closed session hearing details of design/build proposals from the two groups of partners that submitted their proposals under Virginia’s Public-Private Education Act (PPEA) for school projects.

After reconvening in open session, John Schoolcraft made the motion to rank Maxim and W-L Construction as the top proposers and Glass Machinery and T&L second. The motion passed 6-0.

Wise County Schools Superintendent Jeff Perry said the next step in the process is to engage in competitive negotiations with Maxim and W-L Construction and bring those results back to the board for further deliberations.

The school division has long sought to improve traffic flow at the forested campus in Big Stone Gap containing Union High School, Powell Valley Primary and Powell Valley Middle schools. Traffic snarls, particularly into and out of the primary and middle schools, are locally legendary.

The school division has referred to the traffic improvement project as the Loop Road Project. Maxim and W-L Construction have dubbed it the Campus Road Project. Maxim owner Terry Collier on Thursday said Maxim and W-L Construction have proposed a new, direct access point near Union High School to Powell Valley Middle School, and separate school bus lanes to access the three schools.

In broad terms, the companies propose to alter an existing connector leading to the middle school, off the road leading directly to Powell Valley Primary, into a cul-de-sac of sorts to better accommodate primary school traffic, Collier said.

On Thursday, School Board Chairman Nolan Kilgore praised both groups for their presentations, saying both groups provided “very talented people” and the board “learned a lot” from both presentations.

In making his motion to rank Maxim and W-L Construction as the top proposer, Schoolcraft said it was “obvious from the presentations that both groups have done a lot of work preliminarily, and we really appreciate that ... and the efforts put into it.” 

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