Residents get peek at plans for 340 bypass

January 16, 2002

Residents get peek at plans for 340 bypass

Charles Town, W.Va.

By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

The owner of a 200-year-old farmstead and lodge says he is very concerned over the possibility of the U.S. 340 Bypass dissecting his property.

"We're heartbroken," said Rusty Morgan, owner of Rippon Lodge, at the prospect of a four-lane highway running through his Rippon, W.Va., property.

Morgan said he can stand at his house and see only fields, the railroad tracks and fields beyond.

"If they build it here I'll be looking at one-and-half miles of highway," he said. "I'm also concerned about the wildlife."


The new road would pass within 800 feet of his house. He said he didn't know how much of his land the state would take.

Morgan was one of a steady stream of citizens who viewed maps and spoke with engineers and other Division of Highways representatives at a three-hour public meeting at Page Jackson Elementary School Tuesday.

Dale Clevenger, a division spokesman, said Tuesday it would take a crystal ball to know when the federal government will release money to build the final 4.5 miles of the U.S. 340 Bypass to the Virginia state line.

Clevenger said the DOH is wrapping up environmental and historical studies on the final proposed alternatives the department is considering for the roadway.

The DOH is considering two final alternatives, which engineers are calling numbers 6 and 8. Earlier route proposals have been discounted, Clevenger said.

Both alternatives begin where the existing 340 Bypass stops, and end at the Virginia state line.

Alternative 8 makes a northern loop around the Rainbow Diner truckstop and a half-dozen other properties and runs north of and follows the Norfolk and Western Railroad tracks to a point near John's Family Restaurant where the two alternatives meet to follow the same path to the end of the road at the state line.

Alternative 6 follows a straighter route from the truckstop along the south side of the railroad tracks to John's Family Restaurant before heading to the state line on the same route as Alternative 8.

Pegged at $39 million, Alternative 8 costs $12 million more than Alternative 6, but it avoids more than 50 acres of historic lands, including Morgan's Rippon Lodge, a 200-year-old farmstead that includes a farmhouse built in 1843.

Clevenger said $12 million is not a considerable sum on a project costing $200 million or more but it is on a $39 million project like the bypass extension. The added cost is a consideration, he said.

Brian Tribble owns a house in the village of Rippon. He said there are about eight homes there served by artesian wells. Tribble said he's worried the road project might affect the water supply.

He said the land between the village and both proposed routes is known for having sinkholes.

In an unrelated project, Clevenger said the 5.5-mile stretch of the new four-lane W.Va. 9 between the Virginia line and Charles Town will be under contract this year with completion by sometime in 2004. The $90 million project includes a new bridge over the Shenandoah River, he said.

The stretch of W.Va. 9 between Charles Town and Martinsburg, W.Va., also costing up to $90 million, isn't as far along, he said. The state will start acquiring rights of way for that stretch of new four-lane roadway this year. Completion could be in late 2005 or early 2006, he said.

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