BENWOOD - City officials are hopeful a project that will connect the community's two industrial parks will help alleviate truck traffic from the city's center - and help attract more tenants to the sites.
"What we're trying to do with the project with the city is get the south end of the industrial park full ... and the first thing you have to do is get the infrastructure in," said Police Chief Frank Longwell, a co-chairman of city's economic development committee along with Mayor Ed Kuca.
There are two separate industrial parks located in Benwood. Longwell said the north industrial park or "Mull Industries" Industrial Park is the location of the old steel plant - while the south Benwood Industrial Park is known as the "CSX Industrial Park."
Photo by Scott McCloskey
Benwood Mayor Ed Kuca and Police Chief Frank Longwell, both of whom serve as co-chairmen for the city’s economic development committee, look over an area in the south Benwood Industrial Park where they hope to connect the city’s two industrial parks.
Longwell said while there is already a couple of tenants at the south industrial park, there is additional acreage the city is hoping to develop at that site. He said the Regional Economic Development Partnership also owns several acres there.
"The site doesn't have any electricity, water or proper access," said Longwell. He noted while city officials continue to work toward extending a waterline through the property along with other utility lines, connecting the access roads between the north and south industrial parks continues to be another big priority for the city. He said it would cost about $121,000 to add 1,200 feet of connecting access road.
"We're trying to broker a partnership with the city, county commission, RED, and Shelly and Sands. We're all trying to get together and join in on the cost," said Longwell. "If you connect the two industrial parks, it just makes the most sense."
City Council last week approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Marshall County Commission, RED and Shelly & Sands to contribute $30,000 to the paving project to extend Industrial Park Road by 1,200 feet.
"The extension of the access road is going to be a two-phase project," said Longwell.
He said the first phase would involve building the access road from the south industrial park up to the CSX office - while Phase 2 would be more complicated. He said it would involve acquiring some property from CSX to connect the two industrial parks. He said city officials hope to "alleviate some of the truck traffic from center Benwood," as a result of connecting the two industrial parks.
"This would definitely resolve that problem - if we could connect the two industrial parks together by an access road. ... We believe this access road that we're proposing is much easier for the traffic to get on and off Route 2," Longwell added.
He said if some of the truck traffic exited through the most southern end of both industrial parks they "wouldn't be bothering any residential properties," and access to W.Va. 2 would be much easier. He said about 125 heavy trucks travel through center Benwood on a daily basis.
The addition of utility lines to the south Benwood Industrial Park, will make the Benwood-McMechen area more attractive to prospective tenants, such as those related to the oil and gas drilling business.
"That will benefit (McMechen) and us for future development ... you have to get this stuff into place in order to grow. We have been working on it - it has been an ongoing thing, but we're real close now. We have some meetings this week with some key people," said Longwell.
He said he is optimistic the first phase of the project will possibly be completed sometime during the next month, while Phase 2 will take a little more time.
"We already have the legal department searching property boundaries - and preparing to gather estimates and other information. This will not be an overnight project," he added
Mayor Ed Kuca said he has received many phone calls over the years from Benwood residents concerned about the heavy truck traffic through center Benwood, and city officials have tried to find a solution to the ongoing problem. He is hopeful the connecting access road will help ease the problem.