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WVDOT: Bypass could cost nearly $8 million

June 18, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A "bypass" route that has been studied as an option to alleviate traffic congestion at the two intersections of W.Va. 51 and U.S. 11 in Inwood, W.Va., could cost nearly $8 million, West Virginia Department of Transportation officials said Thursday.

A 5-lane option about .66 miles in length proposes the re-routing of W.Va. 51 east of Jubal Early Avenue directly to the northern intersection of the two heavily traveled routes in southern Berkeley County to provide a more direct outlet to Interstate 81, state officials said during a transportation summit held in Martinsburg.

The estimated cost of this option is $7.8 million, officials said.

West Virginia Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox, who attended the summit, encouraged local leaders to work with the Hagerstown/Eastern Panhandle Metropolitan Planning Organization and the state's Congressional delegation to get money for the project, which was not part of the state's current program.

Because of continued budget constraints, Mattox said the MPO's backing was essential and that a local match in funding or a federal allocation would spur the project forward.


State transportation officials said they would seriously consider designating the new route a "limited access" road, eliminating the potential for numerous intersections.

After the meeting, Mattox said the Eastern Panhandle's traffic congestion problems were similar to those in Morgantown, W.Va., another growth area of the state.

"Somehow, someway, we need to get in front of the development and try to plan our futures better," Mattox said.

"It's gonna require better planning and having regulations and rules into effect and planning for the future instead of dealing with it after it becomes a problem," he said.

"A lot of it does deal with the legislature enacting land-use plans on the local level and working with the MPO's and the metropolitan areas to coordinate highway construction with development," Mattox said.

When asked if he was an advocate of zoning to address the planning issue, Mattox said there were so few places in the state that have zoning it was hard for him to answer.

"I don't know if it would make it easier or not because we don't have it," Mattox said.

Facilitated by Berkeley County Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield, the summit featured presentations about the traffic congestion's affect on response time by emergency responders. With times averaging 10 and 14 minutes, both are above an eight-minute standard that was cited in the meeting.

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