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Four-lane entrance planned for Charles Town track

September 23, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Owners of Charles Town Races & Slots have filed paperwork with county and state officials for permission to build a new four-lane entrance to the track off U.S. 340, a track official said Wednesday.

Track officials for years have talked about building a new entrance to the oval, said Jim Buchanan, senior vice president of government and public affairs for Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns the track.

The main entrance to the track is along West Washington Street, which is a two-lane road with a center turn lane.

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Congestion is often a problem at the entrance when patrons leave the track after live racing, Buchanan said.

The four-lane entrance would extend off U.S. 340 a short distance west of the Sheetz store at the intersection of U.S. 340 and Flowing Springs Road, Buchanan said.

From U.S. 340, the new road would cut behind Jefferson Security Bank, Charles Town Athletic Club and the Turf Motel, Buchanan said. The road would then tie into the current entrance road that leads to the oval, Buchanan said.

After the new road is built, the existing entrance will be used, but only right turns in and out of the track will be allowed at the entrance to control traffic congestion on West Washington Street, Buchanan said.

"It will clear up a lot of traffic issues," Buchanan said of the project.

Also, a new traffic light will be installed on U.S. 340 where the new entrance road will intersect with the highway, Buchanan said.

Buchanan said he believes the approval process for construction of the road will take six to eight months.

The project, if approved, will become part of tens of millions of dollars in improvements track owners have made to the racing and slots facility. The improvements have included new gaming areas, additional slot machines and added parking.

Penn National recently spent about $8 million for improvements to the horse track. The track has been closed for nearly a week, however, because of drainage problems. Track officials said earlier this week they hope the track can reopen by the weekend.

The facility's Web site said live racing has been canceled until further notice.

On Wednesday, a track official urged customers to call to see if races were being held.

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