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Residents air bypass worries

June 29, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherdstown residents expressed concern to West Virginia Division of Highway officials at a public hearing Monday that a proposed bypass around the town from W.Va. 45 to W.Va. 480 could lead to more development and traffic congestion.

State highway officials said a bypass is needed because it takes too long for vehicles to make it through the main intersection in town, the four-way stop where W.Va. 480 and W.Va. 45 meet.

Beth Thornton, representing the West Virginia Division of Highway engineering office, said it takes a minimum of 45 seconds for a vehicle to make it through the intersection.

Adding traffic signals would require the addition of left-hand turn lanes and the intersection is too narrow for that, she said. The intersection is surrounded by historical properties and cannot be widened.

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Five possible bypass routes will be studied further, she said. The bypass proposals range from .7 mile to .9 mile in length and cost from $1.5 million to $1.95 million.

In four of the proposals, no homes or businesses would have to be relocated. In one of the proposals, two residences would have to move.

The bypass would eliminate about 20 percent of the vehicles from going through the intersection in town and would lessen delays to an estimated five to 10 seconds, Thornton said.

Several residents said they were concerned that the routes would open up more land for development and add more homes and businesses than the roads can handle.

Jay Hurley of the Shepherdstown Business Association said his group would like the bypass to have no access other than from W.Va. 480 and W.Va. 45. The bypass also could be made a "greenway" with bicycle and walking trails to prevent further development, Hurley said.

Lee Morgan, chief of the Shepherdstown Fire Department, said a bypass is needed because fire volunteers often are delayed at the intersection on their way to the station and fire trucks and ambulances frequently are slowed while going through town.

"Seconds count when a child is choking. Seconds count when someone is having a heart attack," Morgan said.

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