The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 21, 2012

Money delaying Z-Way completion

Heading to work at daybreak and returning home after sundown is irksome for daily commuters in the Daniels-Shady Spring area, but there is no way to say for sure just when the Z-Way project can be completed.

Relief is several million dollars away.

And therein is the problem, the lack of federal dollars to start moving dirt and laying asphalt for a plan aimed at making traffic run smoother.

“The holdup is the money,” Bill Baker, chairman of the Beckley-Raleigh County Transportation Authority, said Monday.

“Unless we get a transportation bill passed through the House of Representatives, I don’t know what’s going to happen. It looks kind of bad up there, even after the election.”

For years, motorists have fumed over the congestion that stretches from Industrial Drive to the Shady Spring area.

But at least one major portion of the overall plan known as Z-Way is in the offing, with work to resume in spring. That one extends from the East Beckley Bypass through Stanaford and ultimately to Industrial Drive.

“The southern part from the bypass back through Beaver and Daniels is pretty much agreed on,” Baker said. “But the money for construction is not there yet.”

As worked out by the consultant, Wilbur Smith Associates of Charleston, the plan calls for a new, four-lane road from Airport Road that would tie into the bypass where one comes off Interstate 64. A new road adding a third lane would stretch from the traffic light in Beaver back to where W.Va. 3 heads toward Hinton.

Traffic moving up past the McDonald’s in Beaver would use a four-lane road that links up with the Interstate.

“We’re hoping there’s another round of stimulus money,” Baker said.

A portion of the road from Beaver toward the Daniels-Shady Spring is already a three-lane highway, but the designers feel it needs to be three lanes for the full length so there is a turning lane.

“The purpose of that is to give a turning lane so when somebody is turning they don’t back up traffic,” Baker said.

“That’s the plan everyone agreed on but the problem is, other than money to complete the Stanaford addition, back the other way, there is no money.”

Baker said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., secured some funding to pay for the costs of the engineering study for the southern part of the Z-Way project.

“I don’t think they’ve actually designed anything,” said Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh, a member of the local authority.

Pugh said the final phase of the multi-million dollar project would “definitely” ease the congestion that daily slows traffic to a crawl in the Beaver-Daniels-Shady Spring area.

“Without a doubt,” the mayor said.

“Right now, it’s in the talking stages, but some money was set aside by Rahall to look at design and get something started. That would be the next go-round. That would kind of separate traffic into town or going out and up on top of the hill and getting out of there. Money is the holdup on anything. For the Stanaford Road improvement and the next part of the bypass to Industrial Drive, that money has already been set aside. They hit a delay, but it’s still going on.”

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