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Get Most Bang For Our Bucks

Northern Panhandle and East Ohio residents — our economies are linked strongly, after all — have waited a long time for improvements to W.Va. 2. They have occurred in bits and pieces for decades.

Voter approval in October of a major road bond issue cleared the way for near-completion of a major segment of W.Va. 2.

From Wheeling to southern Marshall County, the highway has been expanded to four lanes. Bond money would allow the four-lane road to be extended to Proctor, just north of New Martinsville.

Division of Highways District 6 Engineer Gus Suwaid is to meet with the W.Va. 2 and Interstate 68 Authority next week to provide an update on road and bridge projects in this area. The meeting, at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Wetzel County Hospital in New Martinsville, is open to the public.

It is to be hoped Suwaid will be able to reveal more details of the W.Va. 2 plan. Last month, he and other DOH representatives held a public meeting to discuss three options for expansion of the highway from Kent south to Proctor.

As we reported, the options differ greatly in price, ranging from an estimated low of $60.1 million to a high of $89.3 million. Human nature may lead some area residents to lean toward the $89.3 million plan.

All things considered, that may not be the best strategy, however.

A mid-price alternative, at $77.9 million, may be the best for various reasons. One of them is that it was developed, in DOH officials’ words, to “maximize the amount of land available for development.”

That is a consideration in any situation, but it may be particularly important in view of the potential for an ethane cracker plant to be built near the Ohio River in Belmont County. Should that happen, chemical plants and other facilities using the cracker’s output may be built locally. Having sites available for them, as the DOH’s one option seems to promise, would be important.

Another advantage is cost. Saving more than $11 million in comparison to the most expensive W.Va. 2 option, the mid-priced plan could mean the DOH would have money for other important projects in our area.

Whatever the decision, DOH officials should, in terms of both traveler convenience and economic development, aim to get the most bang for taxpayers’ bucks.


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