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Public asked to comment on Jefferson Road options

By Megan Workman

Too see a map of the alternative routes go to: http://www.transportation.wv.gov/highways/programplanning/comment/jeffersonroad/Documents/conceptualAlternatives.pdf

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- When considering the seven different alternatives proposed to ease congestion on Jefferson Road, South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens said creating an overpass is "vital."

The state Division of Highways released preliminary projections for the Jefferson Road improvements last month during a public meeting held at the South Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau.

About 80 people attended the first meeting hosted by the DOH on March 12, Timothy Sedosky, environmental planning manager with the DOH, said at the South Charleston Economic Development Authority's monthly meeting Tuesday.

Sedosky said hearing feedback from the public about the seven alternatives, some of which add bridges and others that create new intersections, is important.

Public comments can be submitted online at www.transportation.wv.gov or by mailing the DOH's director of program planning and administration division.

Written comments are due by April 15.

"We want to hear what they think. This is what we came up with, but what would you like to see?" Sedosky said. "We believe all of these alternatives are constructible ... [but] alternatives may not stay exactly the same. Certainly, things can change. That's why we encourage people to come to the meetings."

Sedosky said the DOH hasn't set a definite date for the next public meeting scheduled for the fall. At the next meeting, people will learn about updates and changes engineers have configured in the meantime, he said.

One modification officials have recognized since the first meeting includes the location of the West Virginia State Police headquarters.

The seven alternatives range in cost from $44 million to $66 million, which is much higher than the initial $25 million plan.

If officials chose the seventh alternative, it would cost an extra $12 million -- nearly $70 million total for that alternative -- to relocate the State Police headquarters, which would be necessary under that option, Sedosky said.

Mullens said South Charleston residents are "concerned, but reasonable" about all of the alterations to a main road in their town.

While a number of people have said that they don't want to be "uprooted" from their homes (some alternatives require a significant number of houses to be torn down), they understand it is time for Jefferson Road development, he said.

The DOH conducted studies on traffic flow and found that drivers could spend six to 20 minutes traveling on the road that connects MacCorkle Avenue to Corridor G.

Much of that waiting time is a result of a railroad crossing, where trains sometimes stop completely on the tracks.

An overpass would ultimately alleviate traffic, Mullens said.

"It's crucial for traffic flow...it's a consistent bottleneck," Mullens said Tuesday. "This is one of the most important projects to happen in a long time."

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. A bridge over the turnpike, railroad and Davis Creek would 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. A bridge over the turnpike, the railroad and Davis Creek would 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.

* Widen the southern part of Jefferson's existing alignment to five lanes, but move along a new alignment to the south of Kanawha Turnpike and continue on a new alignment west of the existing roadway in the vicinity of the West Virginia State Police facility.

Those options do not include a no-build alternative, which is an additional option and would not involve any construction to the existing Jefferson Road.

To submit a comment, view a video of the proposed plans or for more information visit the DOH's website, http://www.transportation.wv.gov/highways/programplanning/comment/jeffersonroad/Pages/default.aspx.

Those who want to file a written comment may send them to Robert L Pennington, P.E., Director, Program Planning & Administration Division, West Virginia Division of Highways, Capitol Complex Building 5, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, W. Va., 25305-0430.

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.

 


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