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Section of new W.Va. 9 opens east of Martinsburg

February 01, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A two-lane section of W.Va. 9 from Eastern Regional Jail to a new Opequon Creek bridge east of Martinsburg opened Wednesday.

"We switched traffic onto what will be the westbound lanes," West Virginia Division of Highways engineer Ken Clohan said.

Clohan said the traffic diversion was needed to build the eastbound lanes of the four-lane highway and another two-lane bridge over Opequon Creek.

The switch temporarily limits access to the Berkeley County Humane Society and other properties along the old route, which still can be accessed from Mt. Olive Road. Douglas Grove Road's intersection with W.Va. 9 also was closed by the switch to allow for construction of a bridge over Evans Run, a tributary of Opequon Creek.

A second access point for the affected properties along the old route will be provided near the Continental Brick Co. plant when the weather cooperates. When completed, the new section of the four-lane route will have three "at-grade intersections for Mt. Olive and Douglas Grove Roads and another route near the brick plant," Clohan said.

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The construction plans include turning lanes for the intersections, but no stoplights, Clohan said. East of Opequon Creek bridge to Ranson, W.Va., all access points to the highway will be ramped entrances to the highway, Clohan said.

The section opene Wednesday includes two 1,000-foot slabs of experimental concrete pavement being studied by West Virginia University researchers, officials have said.

As of Jan. 15, 2008, Clohan said the portion of the $15.6 million project between the jail and the bridge was a little more than 70 percent completed.

DOH officials have said the accident rate on W.Va. 9 between Charles Town and Martinsburg exceeds the statewide average, and according to the agency's traffic engineering division, there were nine accidents at the Opeqon Creek bridge between January 2005 and December 2007.

East of the bridge to ID Van Metre Road near the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the highway's construction was about 46 percent complete, Clohan said

A third section from ID Van Metre Road to Kearneysville, W.Va., is under way with basic infrastructure work being done, Clohan said. All three sections between Martinsburg and Kearneysville are projected to be completed in late 2009. The section from Kearneysville east to Charles Town is open to traffic.

Built in the 1930s, the highway is expected to eventually be widened from Berkeley Springs, W.Va., to Martinsburg and from Charles Town to Jefferson County's boundary with Virginia.

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