WVDOH lets public weigh in on projects

MINERAL WELLS – The public had a chance to look over proposed routes for a new section of West Virginia 14 and provide feedback on how they would impact the area.

The West Virginia Division of Highways held an informational workshop public meeting Tuesday at Mineral Wells Elementary School to allow the public to ask questions and give comments about the proposed four-lane upgrade of W.Va. 14 from Mineral Wells to Pettyville.

The WVDOH, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, is proposing an upgrade to an approximately 1.1-mile section of W.Va. 14 between the four-lane section of W.Va. 14 near the I-77 interchange in Mineral Wells and the growing commercial district in Pettyville around the Patriot Shopping Center.

Plans have been in the works for a while to address these needs, said Dirar Ahmad of the West Virginia Division of Highways Engineering Department.

“It is important to us the public know what we are doing,” Ahmad said. “They tell us what they like and don’t like. We take these comments very seriously. We evaluate each comment. Each one is important to us.”

If the road alignment is left as it is, congestion is expected to increase throughout this area, particularly by commuters to Parkersburg; the current two-lane roadway through the area will be unable to accommodate the growth in the area, a project summary said.

The current roadway has a high number of sharp curves, driveway entrances and parts of the area require people to reduce their speed between 20 mph and 35 mph.

The highway department presented four alternatives it said would meet the needs of the project, improve traffic volume capacity, create a safer roadway geometry, control roadway access for travelers between I-77 and Pettyville and support local planning goals for growth.

“Some of them follow existing roads and some follow existing roads for a little bit then leave it and come back to it,” Ahmad said.

However, one is the preferred alternative from the highway department. This route will run from the end of the four-lane section of W.Va. 14 to the unnamed side street south of Wal-Mart. It is estimated to cost $9.601 million to build.

“This is basically a new alignment,” Ahmad said of a proposed roadway that could be built outside the current alignment of W.Va. 14. It would follow the four-lane design of W.Va. 14 leading out of the Mineral Wells interchange, he said.

This route would displace 13 residences, four businesses and no churches, according to the project summary. It provides access to undeveloped acreage, which could offer economic expansion, the DOH said.

One of those residences would be 6138 Pike St., the home of Keith and Joyce George.

“Anything that they do, our house goes regardless,” Keith George said looking over all of the alternatives.

“We are definitely going to lose it,” Joyce George said.

The couple has lived in the home for 23 years.

“We have been waiting on this for so long we haven’t done anything but minor upkeep,” Joyce George said. “We wanted to put new windows in and put in new floors, but if they are going to tear it down, they would only give us fair market value (which would not cover the cost of any upgrades). Our house is beginning to fall down around us waiting to see what they were going to do.”

Joyce George acknowledged the traffic congestion in the area is getting bad and dangerous.

“You knew they had to do something,” she said.

However, that does not take away the sad feelings over the possibility of losing their house.

“It bothers me,” Joyce George said. “I raised my two kids there. They aren’t going to like it either.

“We love the people in the neighborhood. It is just a great place to live. The expansion is outgrowing us old folks.”

There will be a 30-day comment period. People can review project information and fill out comment sheets online at “go.wv.gov/dotcomment

Once the comment period is over, a final design will be decided on, officials will obtain rights of way and construction could begin by late 2015, officials said.