PARKERSBURG - The road improvements being made along West Virginia 68 should pave the way for additional development at Emerson Commons.
Road crews are finishing up work on the road-widening project of W.Va. 68 and have nearly completed the section of road near Interstate 77.
With the new five-lane road, new bridge over I-77 and the realigned intersection at Emerson Commons and Jesterville Road, officials think development will soon bloom.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
The newly realigned entrance to Emerson Commons and Jesterville Road should make the site more attractive to developers, according to officials.
Emerson Commons development was put together a few years ago and has a Burger King restaurant but little else. Rick Coulson, one of the property owners, thinks the improved roadwork will spur additional development. Coulson said they have had some calls about the site.
"It should" spur development, "I hope. We have been sitting on that for five, six years," he said.
One of the biggest adjustments to the site is the realignment of the commons' entrance with Jesterville Road. The two had previously been off-set.
With the widening project, road crews were able to shift Jesterville Road about 150 feet to align with the commons' entrance.
Rusty Roten, District 3 engineer for the WVDOH, was not sure why the commons' entrance was set up where it was, but the roads needed to be aligned.
"We wanted to do it for traffic safety purposes," he said. "Anytime, you have two off-setting roads like that there is opportunity for conflict. They always work better when they are teed up across from each other."
Roten said the alignment was done at little-to-no additional costs to the project.
"The contractor had extra material that he needed to go get rid of anyway. If there is extra cost it is minimal."
Roten said the road shift is not that unusual. He said crews will do a similar project next year on W.Va. 14, realigning Butcher Bend Road and Chesterville Road.
Cam Huffman, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Authority, said the intersection needed to be aligned to allow for a traffic light.
"We have had people interested in that property, but they need a light," Huffman said. "That was the major complaint we heard about that site location."
Huffman said with the two roads now aligned, a light can be installed, making it more attractive to businesses. Roten pointed out a light- and subsequent traffic study-would have to be installed at the developer's cost.
Roten expects that section of W.Va. 68 to be open as early as next week.
Coulson said it could be some time before additional development happens at Emerson Commons, but he's optimistic projects will begin taking shape within the next year.
Coulson said the site is attractive because of its close proximity to I-77 and the Wood County airport. It's also just a few miles from the city limits.
"It's a slow process," he said. "It's a good site. In the next year or so it will come together."