Panhandle road concerns plentiful

June 24, 2005|By


Local officials Thursday night highlighted transportation needs from Berkeley Springs to Charles Town.

The challenge is finding the money to pay for them.

The needs were highlighted during a meeting between Eastern Panhandle officials and state highway officials at the Old Charles Town Library.

The meeting was part of an initiative started by state Sen. John Unger called "Operation Our Road Ahead." Through the effort, Unger has been bringing state officials to the Panhandle to address needs of the region.


While much of the emphasis was on completing the widening of W.Va. 9 from two to four lanes, plenty of other road needs were discussed.

Among them was congestion along W.Va. 51 and U.S. 11 in southern Berkeley County.

Or as Jerry Mays called it, "the mess in Inwood. You got to live there to love it," said Mays, a member of the Eastern Panhandle Transportation Authority, a organization that was recently formed to address transportation needs in the area.

West Virginia Commissioner of Highways Paul Mattox Jr. said his department will examine the issue, but said no concrete solutions have been developed.

Mays said local officials also would like to see an extension built onto Raleigh Street to relieve traffic congestion in downtown Martinsburg and to expand Interstate 81 to six lanes throughout the county.

The interstate already has been expanded to six lanes around Martinsburg.

"We need to see dirt moving in Berkeley County," said Eastern Panhandle Transportation Authority member Wayne Lancaster.

Susan Webster, the mayor of Bath, the local government inside Berkeley Springs, pushed for a bypass around the Morgan County town, which is a popular tourist spot. There is heavy traffic in town, including trucks, and there has been a large number of accidents, Webster said.

The needs in Jefferson County include widening U.S. 340 to four lanes on the southern and eastern edges of the county.

State highway officials said money is tight for much of the highway projects discussed. Although the state could receive up to $80 million to $100 million more in federal highway funding, the tricky part is coming up with $20 million in matching money to secure the federal funding, highway officials said.

"We don't have the money for everything we want to do," Secretary of Transportation Danny Ellis said.

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