Proposed road could ease traffic problems

June 19, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A new road and traffic circle, similar to one in Ranson, W.Va., could be built off the Flowing Springs Road exit of W.Va. 9 to help ease traffic problems at what is a busy four-way stop near Charles Town Races & Slots in Jefferson County, highway officials said.

No cost estimate has been done and a timeline has not been established for the potential project, said Randy Epperly, deputy state highway engineer. If the project is determined to be feasible after an engineering study is finished, public hearings would be held, he said.

Although the road would go through the property of the former Shenandoah Downs racetrack, state Division of Highways officials would not need to tear down the old grandstand, Epperly said.


Officials with Charles Town Races & Slots, which owns the property, have previously discussed razing the building.

A message left Wednesday with the president of Charles Town Races & Slots was not returned.

The new road would come off W.Va. 9 and end up closer to the track, putting drivers who want to play the slots or bet on horses near the railroad tracks on East Fifth Avenue, Epperly said.

Some of the drivers who use the current road want to go to the track, while others use it as a shortcut to get to Charles Town by cutting through Ranson, he said.

Charles Town Police Chief Mike Aldridge said that at least two years ago, DOH employees met with Charles Town and Ranson officials to discuss the possibility of building the road.

Shenandoah Downs and Charles Town Races are within the county's jurisdiction, but the new road would end within Ranson's city limits, Aldridge said.

A second entrance to the track on Washington Street in Charles Town is "hectic," Aldridge said, but a suggestion that a traffic signal be installed was rejected because a nearby hill could cause visibility problems.

A possible entrance near an adjacent Sheetz also was declared impossible because there are too many traffic lights in that area already, Aldridge said.

One advantage to the proposed road - which Epperly stressed is only in preliminary stages - would be that it takes drivers away from the horse barns, he said.

Currently, cars must pass close by the barns and horses occasionally are walked across the two-lane road.

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