SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dale Drennen lives in Rock Lake Village, but has driven out of the way to Charleston and then along Corridor G after shopping at Southridge Centre just to avoid the terrible traffic on Jefferson Road.
Drennen said that, for years, South Charleston residents and drivers have needed changes to Jefferson Road that would make it easier to drive on.
Numerous people in the community attended Tuesday's first public meeting on a Jefferson Road improvement study conducted by the West Virginia Division of Highways.
Officials studied the traffic from Jefferson to MacCorkle Avenue in South Charleston. The study focused on the recurring congestion and mobility problems along Jefferson Road.
Preliminary projections for the Jefferson Road improvements include seven alternatives that range in cost from $44 million to $66 million, which is much higher than the initial $25 million plan.
Nearly all the alternatives widen the road to five lanes. Some add bridges and others create new intersections.
Bob Anderson, executive director of the South Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the "most exciting" news from the study is that construction on the improvements is scheduled to begin in 2015, five years sooner than first planned.
The construction is on the DOH's priority list of projects to be taken on within the next six years.
"This is really going to speed up development in South Charleston," Anderson said.
Residents, landowners and people who frequently drive through the area walked through a room at the South Charleston Recreation Center lined with 10 colorful posters and graphics, which outlined the details.
Attendees talked to the officials behind the study while, in another room, an informational video explained DOH plans and projections for Jefferson Road.
"The alternatives look like good fixes but they aren't cheap, and this needs to be done," Drennen said. "Either way, people aren't going to be happy, but it's for the public's good. I'm just glad to see they're doing something about it, and I'm anxious to see them make a decision."
The seven alternatives are:
• Widen Jefferson Road to five lanes. Build a new bridge over Davis Creek to form a four-way intersection with Kanawha Turnpike. A grade-separated intersection (intersecting roads at different levels) with the turnpike could be added later.
• Widen the southern part of Jefferson's existing alignment to five lanes, but move along a new alignment to the east as the road approaches Kanawha Turnpike. Bridge over the turnpike, railroad and Davis Creek to tie back into the existing Jefferson Road near the Interstate 64 ramp overpass.
• Widen the road to five lanes with a new alignment to the east. Bridge over the turnpike, the railroad and Davis Creek to tie back into the existing Jefferson Road near the I-64 ramp overpass.
• Widen the southern part of Jefferson's existing alignment to five lanes and diverge along a new alignment to the west of Davis Creek. This would parallel Davis Creek on an abandoned railroad bed to form a four-way intersection with the turnpike.
• Widen the southern part of Jefferson's existing alignment to five lanes, but move along a new alignment to the east to bridge over the turnpike, the railroad and Davis Creek.
• Widen Jefferson Road to five lanes. Create intersecting roads at different levels with Kanawha Turnpike, tying back into the existing Jefferson Road near the I-64 ramp overpass.