By Mannix Porterfield
Further work on the East Beckley By-Pass project, originally on the Department of Transportation’s calendar for construction this spring, has been put off, and nothing more will occur until 2014, the agency confirmed Friday.
In fact, says DOT spokesman Brent Walker, it’s altogether possible that one original phase of the ambitious project, intended to ease traffic snarls in the Beckley area, just might be scratched from the overall plan.
That would be an overpass initially designed to cross Eisenhower Drive onto Rural Acres Drive, Walker explained.
In essence, then, the next step would be a section stretching from Stanaford to Industrial Drive, and the DOT hopes to put this out to the bidding process next year, although no date has been firmed up, the spokesman said.
“And part of that is going to be those upgrades, a little widening to Stanaford, a turn lane and all that,” Walker said.
“We will kind of square it up. Everything there is at grade. You’ll continue to East Beckley to Industrial Drive, but there probably will be a couple of signals at Ragland Road and at Stanaford. But that’s not until next year.”
As far as the original improvements along Eisenhower Drive, “we’re going to hold off on that and see what happens when we complete this section,” Walker said.
“We think there will be some improvements along Eisenhower,” he said. “But we’re going to wait and see what improvements are needed, once we complete this piece to Industrial Drive.”
Walker wasn’t sure if funding was an issue.
Last fall, the DOT indicated the next phase would entail the paving of W.Va. 41 at its juncture with Eisenhower Drive to Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital, but a decision was reached to delay that and seek money to finance the 1.4-mile link from Stanaford to Industrial Drive.
“We think some of that will take care of itself,” Walker said.
In late November 2011, officials cut a ribbon to open the first 1.6-mile segment of the bypass. That phase, performed by Vecellio & Grogan Inc., stretches from Grey Flats to Stanaford Road, or W.Va. 41, and includes a turning lane at the end.
The DOT is putting finishing touches on a separate project in the Mill Creek area, aimed at making traffic run smoother for the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree in July in Fayette County.
“Most of the improvements that we’re making there are around the Bradley-Mount Hope area, and are coming in on Route 61,” Walker said. “We’re making some improvements that lead us to the entrance of the Boy Scout camp.”
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