New road would boost Berkeley County business park

September 27, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The construction of a four-lane road that will provide a direct connection from Interstate 81 to U.S. 11 and Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport south of Martinsburg cleared a sizable hurdle this month when state and county officials reached an agreement on the road's right of way.

The Tabler Station Connector project from Exit 8 of I-81 through the Tabler Station Business Park to U.S. 11 and Novak Drive has not been advertised yet, said Kenneth L. Clohan, acting area engineer for the West Virginia Division of Highways.

Clohan said preliminary designs include a new five-lane bridge over I-81 and new traffic signals for the exit/entrance ramps and the intersection of Novak Drive and U.S. 11.

Clohan on Friday could not provide an estimated completion date for the work, but county economic development officials earlier this month said that state highway leaders had indicated the road could be under construction by early 2009 and completed in 2010.


The state purchased about 13 acres for about $47,000 per acre for the right of way, said Stephen Christian, executive director of the Berkeley County Development Authority.

Once completed, the connector will divert traffic from Tablers Station Road, the current route from I-81 to U.S. 11.

"It's going to be a much, much friendlier environment for all those homeowners (along Tablers Station Road)," Christian said.

Christian predicted the new road would help make the area around the Tabler Station exit of I-81 a "premier" location for growing industry in Berkeley County and bolster development of the development authority's fledgling Tabler Station Business Park.

Since the development authority acquired the acreage for the business park in 2004, only 84 Lumber Co., A&S Warehouse, 167th TFR Federal Credit Union and the Berkeley County Commission have purchased land.

The business park was carved from 326 acres known as the Criswell farm, but a portion will not be sold for development because of its proximity to Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport's runway protection zone, and other areas cannot be developed for geotechnical reasons, Christian said. The amount of acreage available for development now is about 240 acres, Christian said.

The county commission's purchase of 8.6 acres in the business park is for a yet-to-be-built emergency services facility, and 84 Lumber has yet to relocate from its current location along Charles Town Road, Christian said.

Despite an economic downturn and worries in the housing and financial sectors, Christian said interest from industrial prospects has been relatively strong. A number of them at least have considered or are considering Berkeley County, he said.

Given the development interest, the importance of the connector project ranks high among infrastructure improvements in Berkeley County, A. Stephen Cox, president of the Development Authority board, said in a press release earlier this month.

"This is the most significant road construction project since the new route (for W.Va.) 9," Cox said.

The new four-lane route for W.Va. 9 between Martinsburg and Charles Town, W.Va., is expected to be completed by August 2010, Clohan said Friday.

Highway officials hope to open the second two-lane section of the new W.Va. 9 between Eastern Regional Jail and the Opequon Creek bridge just east of Martinsburg in November, Clohan said.

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