William Wood, right, assistant director of the West Virginia Department of Transportation’s planning and research division, discusses some map details with Beckley-Raleigh County Transportation Authority members Tom Cochran, middle, and Bill Baker, left, during a Thursday meeting in Charleston. A study on the Z-Way roads project will begin this summer.

Carl "Butch" Antolini
The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

CHARLESTON — A year from now, an intensive study should be complete and efforting to obtain road construction funds from federal and state sources should be in high gear for the proposed Z-Way roads project in Raleigh County.

Members of the Beckley-Raleigh County Transportation Authority and West Virginia Department of Transportation met Thursday at the Capitol Complex with representatives of the consulting firm of Wilbur Smith Associates to begin discussions concerning the scope of work which will be undertaken during the study phase of the multi-faceted highway project.

WSA spokesman Wes Stafford gave a brief overview of some preliminary modeling on the various roads which will be impacted. The report was based on 1998 statistics that were derived when work on the East Beckley bypass project was done.

“That’s our problem, because what’s going on today is completely different than 1998,” said Bill Baker, chairman of the BRCTA.

Stafford acknowledged the preliminary information would change but that a final contract between the consultants and state had not yet been finalized. Once that is done in the next several weeks, the work on the study will be expedited.

“Our desire here today is to find out what your priorities are, see what you know and then move forward,” added Marvin Murphy, state highway engineer.

Both Baker and Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh made it known that the top priorities for the Z-Way are Routes 19/3 from Shady Spring to Raleigh County Memorial Airport and Eisenhower Drive from the intersection of Route 41 to Robert C. Byrd Drive.

Completion of the loop road around the airport, which would provide two ways in and out of the industrial parks, was also a focal point of the discussion.

Deputy state highway engineer Jim Sothen suggested that in the next “one to two weeks” a meeting between the DOT and BRCTA take place to pin down specific details and suggestions “before we finalize the scope” of the study with the consultant.

“We want to get your (BRCTA) ideas and input up front before we nail down those details.”

Stafford said it should take about six months to get the details of the study put into a workable draft. After that, it will be about six more months before the final touches are put on paper, added DOT Director of Engineering Greg Bailey.


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