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Officials celebrate completion of local road project

Officials celebrate completion of local road project

Photos by Tyler Bennett West Virginia Governor Jim Justice speaks during a press event to celebrate the completion of a major road project at Murdoch Avenue on Tuesday morning.

PARKERSBURG — Gov. Jim Justice and state officials held a press event to celebrate the completion of a major road project for Parkersburg’s Murdoch Avenue and Grand Central Avenue in Vienna at Astorg Pre-Owned lot at Lakeview on Tuesday morning.

Joined by West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Byrd White, DOT Deputy Secretary Jimmy Wriston, Del. Vernon Criss and city mayors Tom Joyce (Parkersburg) and Randy Rapp (Vienna) for the celebration of the 2.9 miles of new pavement.

Under Justice’s Drive Roads to Prosperity program that was passed in 2017, the goal is to create immediate economic recovery through the investment of $2.8 billion in transportation improvements across the state.

In just three years, the program has over 700 projects, created 48,000 estimated jobs, and covering 1,200 estimated miles that were impacted.

“When we started down this road a few years back, we came up with the idea of this Roads to Prosperity deal. In doing so there were a lot of naysayers that said, ‘We’ll never get it passed, never ever get a pass no matter what we do.’ Of course, I sure didn’t buy into that and we went to work,” Justice said. “Our people here are great mayors and great delegates. All the people who put in the legwork to make it happen, made it become a reality. Goodness comes to these communities like crazy. It’s a wonderful community and I love you with all my soul. We’re going in the right direction and we’re gonna get through.”

Seeing an average of 39,000 cars a day, construction began July 24 starting on 26th Street in Parkersburg and ending at 28th Street in Vienna and was contracted by Kelly Paving of Williamstown.

The federal aid project was a $2.9 million contract while the state matched 20 percent.

While the pavement of the street is complete, full completion will be on Oct. 16, according to Wriston.

The contractors will be raising valve boxes, manholes, and other little things to have the project officially complete.

The surface used is called super paved, which Wriston said is the “Cadillacs of surfaces to use” but Joyce said it should be called the “Mercedes of pavement” due to the event being held at Astorg.

According to Justin Smith, district engineer for WVDOH District 3 in Parkersburg, the majority of the construction occurred during the night and there was only one accident on the entire project.

“We’re really proud to be up here and we’re really happy to be able to complete this project along with many more. These types of projects we’re able to free up that federal aid money thanks to the governor’s vision with the Roads to Prosperity program,” Wriston said. “We’re stretching every dollar, we have every aspect and blending these funds and getting them done. We’ve got a lot to do. We’ve done a lot, this one’s a good one.”

Criss talked about how much the roads had changed when it was first built in 1974, going from a two-way lane going both ways to the current seven lanes. At one point it was in the top 10 with the most traffic in the state. Criss also said the new pavement will also help with the surrounding businesses.

“We do appreciate the highway department and their attention to our needs, and appreciate working with them,” Criss said. “And hopefully, come next year that the governor and I will be in Charleston, and will be able to do it again.”

The next large scale local project going on for the department is on U.S. 50 towards the Blennerhassett Island Bridge. State crews are paving the county roads for the seven counties that are in District 3.

So far paving 32 of the 90 miles, the department will try to finish the remaining roads before Thanksgiving, weather permitted, said Smith.

Contact Tyler Bennett at tbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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