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Plans Not Finalized For Highway Upgrade

Reported by: Send eMail Kennie Bass
Videographer: John Tincher
Web Producer: Kennie Bass
Reported: Nov. 27, 2013 8:02 PM EST
Updated: Nov. 27, 2013 10:50 PM EST

EYEWITNESS NEWS ONLINE WEBCAST VIDEO

Route 35 Construction
Eyewitness News Photo

Winfield , Putnam County , West Virginia

When Putnam County Commissioner Andy Skidmore announced a construction start date of 2014 to upgrade the remaining two lane section of U.S. Route 35 to four lanes, the West Virginia Division of Highways said he jumped the gun.

"It's a pretty big process," Brent Walker, a spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Transportation, said. "Meet with our consultants, meet with our legal team and just jump through all the hoops that are necessary to satisfy that P3 delivery method by the spring. I mean, it could happen but it's just a little premature to announce that it will happen."

Finding the money to pay for Route 35 construction has been the final major hurdle to getting the job done. A plan that would have included toll booths was roundly rejected.

Regardless of when the project finally gets underway, people eating at a popular Putnam County diner say a four-lane Route 35 will be a major boost.

"The most important thing to me as I drive through what's been open already. And see the thousands and thousands of acres that could be opened up for economic development," Paul Melton of Buffalo said. "And that to me is really the big thing. Opening the other four lanes that opens all kinds of possibilities for economic development. "

Walker said the Route 35 upgrade remains a top priority of the department of transportation, and that any official announcements about it would come from an office a bit higher than county commission.

"If we're able to work through all that, certainly Governor Tomblin's office would make those announcements," Walker said. "And I'm sure everyone would be excited to hear that. But there's still just a lot of work to be done."

It's estimated the Route 35 four-lane upgrade will cost more than $200 million dollars.



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