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Roads are focus of local meetings

June 23, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - State Sen. John Unger is dubbing the effort, "Operation Our Road Ahead," and today the focus turns to transportation.

Unger, D-Berkeley, said "Operation Our Road Ahead" refers to his effort to bring top state officials to the Eastern Panhandle to address local needs relating to law enforcement, highways and other issues.

This week, Unger is welcoming state highways officials to the Eastern Panhandle to discuss future transportation needs.

Unger said it is important that state highways officials understand local transportation needs because the state is putting together a six-year plan for highway projects in the state.

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Three state highways officials arrived Wednesday and began touring the area, looking at traffic congestion along U.S. 11 and W.Va. 51 in the Inwood, W.Va., area in Berkeley County, Unger said.

Tonight, the three highway officials - Secretary of Transportation Danny Ellis, Commissioner of Highways Paul Mattox and state highway engineer Marvin Murphy - will participate in a series of meetings at the Old Charles Town Library at 200 E. Washington St. in Charles Town.

In addition to getting input from local officials and residents on local road needs, the highways officials are expected to give updates on ongoing highway projects in the Eastern Panhandle, such as the widening of W.Va. 9 from two to four lanes, said Unger, chairman of the Senate Transportation Infrastructure Committee.

From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Ellis, Mattox and Murphy will meet with the Eastern Panhandle Transportation Authority, a local organization that was set up recently to prioritize highway needs in the area, Unger said.

From 7:30 to 8 p.m., the three highway officials will meet with the Jefferson County Commission, and from 8 to 9 p.m., a public forum will allow local residents to comment about highway issues important to them, Unger said.

The idea behind the meetings is a free exchange of ideas, Unger said.

"It's going to be a dialogue. It won't be a one-way presentation," Unger said.

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