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Opening date not set for new stretch of W.Va. 9

April 11, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Motorists fuming about congestion on W.Va. 9 in the Bardane area can actually see relief coming as they make their way down the two-lane road.

Running parallel to the existing W.Va. 9 is the new four-lane W.Va. 9.

It's hard to miss the new road with its light-colored concrete lanes winding through the countryside.

Most of the concrete for the new road from the northern end of the Charles Town Bypass to Kearneysville has been poured and that section of the much-anticipated highway will be the first section to be opened to the public, said Bob Amtower, district manager for the District 5 office of the Department of Highways.

"That project should be winding down this summer. By and large, all the dirt work is done," Amtower said Tuesday.

Amtower said it is unclear when the section of new W.Va. 9 between the Charles Town Bypass and Kearneysville will open.

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The work will involve some widening of lanes and other work at the current W.Va. 9 and W.Va. 480 intersection in Kearneysville at the Sheetz store, Amtower said. Highway officials are still working through some of those issues, Amtower said.

Highway officials are still anticipating that the section of the road between Charles Town and Martinsburg will be completed by next year, Amtower said.

W.Va. 9 is a major east-west highway through the Eastern Panhandle, and plans to upgrade the road to handle growing amounts of traffic have been in the works for years.

U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., has secured at least $120 million for the road and highway officials say it could cost as much as $208 million to construct the section between Charles Town and Martinsburg.

The section of the new road between Charles Town and Martinsburg is being built first and the segment between Charles Town east to the Virginia line is expected to begin in 2010, Amtower said.

There has also been discussion over the years of building a four-lane W.Va. 9 from Martinsburg to Berkeley Springs in Morgan County, but funding for the proposal is uncertain, Amtower said.

Three contracts wait to be completed for the section of the road from Kearneysville to Martinsburg, Amtower said.

Two of those contracts, which total more than $43 million, have been awarded and include work that is under way between Eastern Regional Jail outside of Martinsburg and west to the area around Opequon Creek, Amtower said.

Del. Locke Wysong, D-Jefferson, said the reaction from the community about the progress of the road seems to be positive.

"It's been a long time coming. Well over a decade," said Wysong, referring to the years of planning that went into the highway.

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