The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 25, 2012

Next phase of bypass is delayed

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

— One phase is done, and two more are in the offing, as the West Virginia Division of Highway gears up for the completion of the East Beckley Bypass project designed to ease traffic snarls in the region.

There had been speculation that the second phase would start this fall, the paving of W.Va. 41 at the intersection with Eisenhower Drive to Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital with the addition of a turning lane.

That project has been put on hold, however, until the first significant step in January or February — the advertising for bids by contractors.

“We’ll bid it out and then we’ll award it soon after that,” Brent Walker, a Department of Transportation spokesman, told The Register-Herald.

“By the time you go through that process and have a pre-construction meeting and get some better weather, and get the contractor on board, it will be spring time. It will take about 18 months from the day we start.”

Walker said the plan is to stretch the upgrade from BARH to Eisenhower Drive and onto Rural Acres Drive.

“We’ll be cutting out that ‘Y’ and making that intersection of 41 and Stanaford and Rural Acres kind of easier,” he said.

That completed, DOH then will move into the third and final phase, likely not to start until 2014.

This entails an overhaul from Stanaford Road to Industrial Drive, the removal of a traffic light on Eisenhower and Rural Acres Drive, and adding an overpass so traffic is able to move without signals.

“That’s the long range plan,” Walker said.

“Once we upgrade from north to the hospital and south to Eisenhower, we’ll turn our attention next year and just extend that beyond Stanaford to Industrial Drive. That will be kind of the missing link.”

While some in the Beckley area had anticipated that work on the repaving and turning lane would commence this month, Walker said a number of factors can stall a project but declined to describe the project as being behind.

“There could be a whole host of reasons we just had to extend it,” he said, noting that right-of-way considerations or design work often come into play.

At this stage, there is no way to even estimate the remaining cost of the two phases of the bypass project, the DOT spokesman said.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com