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Wider W.Va. 9 route proposed

August 17, 2000

Wider W.Va. 9 route proposed



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - State officials Wednesday unveiled the latest set of plans to widen W.Va. 9 from two lanes to four lanes - the road stretching from the Virginia border to Martinsburg - at a cost of $145 million.

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A new, more northern route for W.Va. 9 is planned for a section of the road, officials said. Dirt will begin to fly on the project in 2001, they added.

A third phase of the plan is a W.Va. 9 bypass around Martinsburg expected to cost about $100 million. There are federal transportation monies to cover the widened and new W.Va. 9 from Virginia to Martinsburg; however, funding hasn't been identified for the bypass, West Virginia Department of Highways officials said.

Environmental studies to widen W.Va. 9 from two lanes to four could be done late this year or early next this year, officials said.

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The costs would break out as follows:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $75 million for the new six-mile stretch from the Virginia state line to Charles Town. About $30 million of that would be allocated for a new bridge over the Shenandoah River to serve W.Va. 9. The new route would run north of the current one.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> $70 million for the new 10-mile Charles Town-Martinsburg link, which roughly parallels the existing road.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> An estimated cost of $100 million for the Martinsburg Bypass. That plan is far less developed than the other two links and two other alternatives are being studied. The proposed bypass would connect with new W.Va. 9.

The bypass would run from near the Eastern Regional Jail to east of Rosedale Cemetery, go through the Berkeley Plaza area and connect with other roads near I-81 by the West Virginia State Police offices.

Officials said traffic numbers back up the need for the improvements. About 16,000 vehicles per day have been counted on W.Va. 9 near Charleston, with 30,000 counted near Martinsburg.

"When you get to 6,000 cars a day on a road, that's when you start looking at a four-lane," Dave Clevenger, head of consultant resources with the West Virginia Department of Highways, said.

Property owners and others have fought various elements of the plan over the years. But the opposition has lessened.

Common Sense Route Nine hasn't met for years, said former President Jane Grissinger. They were never opposed to the improvements, just the process the state was using and the routes they were choosing.

"I think it was important that they listened to the people who lived there," said Grissinger, who lives in Shepherdstown and was not affected by any proposal. "What we were concerned with is what I would call the high-handed injustice of the whole thing."

Cheryl Long of the group Berkeley County Citizens has been following the Martinsburg Bypass discussion for years.

"The more we've been out there, the less antagonistic we have become," Long said. "I think in terms of them listening to us, we've made progress."

State highway engineer Joe Deneault told members of the public he understands their concerns about relocation because his family went though a similar situation when he was young.

"I understand the torment the property owner goes through when there's any public improvement," Deneault said.

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