The budget is growing for Dallastown Area School District's proposed intermediate school.

The project's cost was estimated at $58.5 million in July but has increased by almost $1.2 million, to $59.8 million, said district business manager Donna Devlin.

She said the majority of the increase is due to a need for $977,000 more than expected in contingency funds. Site work such as landscaping, traffic signals and additional sidewalks increased by $986,000.

The new $59.8 million price tag would have been larger, but some costs decreased, she said. For instance, architect fees dropped by $150,000.

As of Feb. 23, construction was expected to cost $49.6 million and soft costs -- such as architectural and engineering fees -- were budgeted at about $10.2 million.

Devlin said the school board will finance the project the same as proposed before the increases; it will borrow $58 million and pay for the rest with interest earnings.

Richard LeBlanc of Crabtree and Rohrbaugh, Architects spoke about the increases during a school board meeting earlier this month. He said costs will continue to mount if construction is delayed.

For example, he said the rapidly increasing cost of materials such as copper and steel could push construction costs up by 0.5 percent -- or $250,000 -- each month construction is delayed.

The 309,000-square-foot school -- scheduled to open in September 2008 -- would be built on 51 acres bought by the district in the 1970s, bordered by Susquehanna Trail and Beck and School roads. It would accommodate up to 1,800 students in grades 4, 5 and 6.

Needs approval: School officials are still working through the zoning approval process for the project.

A traffic-impact study mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has been completed. It will be submitted to the Springfield Township Planning Commission at its Monday, March 19, meeting, then to township supervisors at a Monday, April 9, meeting.

PennDOT must approve the study and highway improvements that will address traffic pattern changes caused by the new school.

The project could be released for bid by the end of April.

Residents speak: Residents of Springfield Township said they are concerned about the impact that highway improvement design patterns will have on their neighborhood.

Township resident Debra Nease says a traffic light -- planned for a proposed intersection at Susquehanna Trail, Seminole Drive and Beck Road -- will make backing out of her driveway on the south side of Seminole Drive dangerous.

"We have a right to get in and out of our property," Nease said. "We're going to fight this."

Board members said they are concerned about the school's neighbors and also about moving the project forward in a timely and cost-effective manner.

"We want to do the right thing and resolve all the issues," said board President Donald L. Yoder. "We also need to do everything we can to move the project forward."

Yoder said PennDOT regulations do not allow a meeting with neighbors until the traffic impact study has been approved by PennDOT.

"We want to meet with our neighbors, and we will do it as soon as we can," Yoder said.

-- Staff writer Christina Kauffman contributed to this story. Reach Nancy Ruppel at 854-1575 or news@yorkdispatch.com.