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New road draws criticism

February 24, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - No one has told David A. Payne that his house will be torn down to make way for a four-lane W.Va. 9, but the proof is in the plans.

In the drawings for the new highway, Payne has been able to identify his house as one that will be "displaced" for the new road.

And it he is not happy.

[cont. from news page]

"They can go better routes than that. I don't think anyone is satisfied with it," Payne said at a public meeting for the new road at Wright Denny Elementary School Wednesday afternoon.

Highways officials held the meeting to show residents where the road will be built and to to field any questions.

Three of Payne's neighbors are also expected to lose their homes. Payne, who lives along W.Va. 9 near the intersection with Wiltshire Road, said the highway would displace fewer homes if the planned route was moved a quarter of a mile south in his neighborhood.

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Dave Bodnar, project supervisor for the new highway, said he believes the Division of Highways has done a good job avoiding homes for the $110 million road.

In the ten years of planning for the road, there have been at least four different possible routes, one calling for the demolition of 303 houses.

Another plan required the razing of 177 homes and the third required the razing of 151 homes.

The final selected route between Martinsburg and Charles Town, referred to as the "preferred alternative," calls for 37 homes to be torn down.

"I think they have done a pretty good job really," said Bodnar.

The criticism of the new road is typical of the debate that has surrounded the project. While some don't like the design of the new road, others fed up with the congestion on the meadering two-lane road can't wait for a new, wider freeway to be built.

According to a handout from the highways department at Tuesday's meeting, average daily traffic on W.Va. 9 is expected to increase by 120 percent by the year 2012.

"A general upgrading of W.Va. 9 will help the area keep pace with the development that is occurring elsewhere in the region. If W.Va. 9 is not upgraded, travel times, costs of distributing services and goods, and possibly hazards will gradually increase," according to a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

The preferred alternative between Martinsburg and Charles Town will generally run parallel to the current road. Coming from the four-lane Charles Town bypass, the road will run west of the existing road.

Just north of Wiltshire Road in Bardane, the new road will cross the old road to the east. Near the St. Paul Church and Cemetery, the road will cross back to the west. From there, the road will loop to the west until it reaches the Baker Heights area in Berkeley County.

The road will connect with the existing W.Va. 9 in Martinsburg.

The old W.Va. 9 will continue to be open for local use.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring of next year.

Division of Highways planners will hold a second public meeting on the project today from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Berkeley Heights Elementary School in Martinsburg.

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