Corridor project faces delay
by Ron Gregory
CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Department of Transportation is assuring residents that it has not abandoned a preservation project on Corridor G (US Route 119) near Charleston.
At least three state legislators had asked questions, along with dozens of Chronicle readers, about why there has been a delay in the 4-1/2 mile project near the 66-mile marker near Alum Creek.
Residents have complained that the contractor working on the project “just pulled out three weeks ago.” The only visible sign that work is still underway is signage and the familiar orange traffic cones placed along 4-1/2 mile stretches of both the north and south bound lanes.
DOT Communications Director Brent Walker said the project has not moved forward because of problems discovered after the lanes were “milled.” The term means a portion of the highway surface is removed, revealing the concrete foundation under the asphalt, Walker explained.
“After the milling was complete, it was determined that the foundation has deteriorated so much that it will not support the new paving,” said Walker. “Engineers and other DOH employees are working on a plan and activity will resume there soon.”
Walker said the original anticipated completion date for the project was July 28. “We think we will meet or come to close to meeting that goal,” he said.
The spokesman said the DOH is “fully aware” of the frustration of drivers who are forced into the one remaining lane in each direction. In many locations along the route, vehicles are steered onto the berm area and hear the constant sound of the side warnings that are designed to awake sleeping motorists.
Three legislators — State Senator Ron Stollings and House of Delegates members Jeff Eldridge and Zack Maynard say they share the residents’ concerns. “I have talked to DOH about it and told them something needs to start moving as soon as possible,” said State Senator Ron Stollings of Boone County. “People are really concerned about it and I don’t blame them.”
Maynard said he had talked to DOH officials as well. “I really don’t understand the explanation,” he said. “It seems like DOH inspectors would have noticed that the foundation was not sound before they removed nine miles of it. On the other hand, I’m no highway engineer and I believe DOH will get on it as quickly as they can.”
Eldridge added, “My concern is public safety. There are folks who should not be forced into those kinds of driving conditions. That part of the road was in good shape. We have roads all over Southern West Virginia that have potholes and slides.”
Walker noted that the Corridor is a federal highway and the state receives funds specifically dedicated to those roads. He said that “preservation projects are designed to save taxpayer money in the long run by making the road last longer.”
Senator Richard Ojeda, who also represents the area, refuses to respond to media questions. It is not known if he is aware of the highway problem.