Motorists complaints forces changes to W. Va. U.S. 340 work

October 05, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

HARPERS FERRY, W.VA. - Complaints from motorists about a U.S. 340 road construction project in Jefferson County have prompted the West Virginia Division of Highways to revise the hired contractors' overnight work schedule and projected completion date.

Robert "Bob" Amtower, engineer with DOH District 5, said the state has encouraged W-L Construction & Paving Inc. to stop work on the highway near Harpers Ferry about an hour or two earlier than originally planned because of "tremendous" morning congestion caused by the project.

"The contractor's now trying to get off between 5 and 6 a.m.," Amtower said. "We're doing everything we can to avoid that early-morning rush."

The work area begins just north of West Virginia's bridge across the Shenandoah River at Harpers Ferry, and extends for one mile to the state's boundary with Virginia. The work began last week.


Highway officials initially asked the contractor to have the drainage and ditch work, asphalt paving, shoulder repairs and pavement marking done between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.

With the revised work schedule in response to an outcry of complaints, Amtower expects an additional four or five days to complete the project, which was awarded to the Chilhowie, Va., company for $678,331.74.

Amtower anticipates the work could be completed by early November, assuming favorable weather conditions continue and no other unexpected problems arise.

Significant water drainage problems are expected to be addressed through work on about 15 culverts in the work area, Amtower said.

Amtower said his office in Burlington, W.Va., has not been made aware of any additional road improvement plans in the immediate future by Virginia or Maryland on their adjoining portions of U.S. 340 farther north of Harpers Ferry.

Even without construction, the section of the highway that links the three states often is congested because traffic lanes are reduced from four to two before bridges over the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.

Though no solution has been proposed to accommodate potential concerns regarding the impact on Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Amtower said all three states would have to be part of any meaningful work done.

"It continues to be talked about," Amtower said.

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