W.Va. 2 Project Not Worth It
Your reporting and subsequent editorial on the widening of W.Va. 2 from Proctor to Kent is typical of your lack of research and questioning. I travel this section regularly and I attended all the public meetings and studied the engineering report.
ADT, average daily traffic, typically guides road improvement projects. When queried, engineers told me that the ADT in this case “barely qualifies this section for upgrades.” The W.Va. 2/I-68 committee ignored the ADT and maintained that this project would unleash incredible economic development.
Traffic from Moundsville to Fish Creek Road is much less than Moundsville north. Traffic from Fish Creek to New Martinsville is even less. One morning, on this 7-mile stretch, there were 21 vehicles in the opposing lane. Three vehicles per mile. I set my cruise control at 60 in Proctor and I’m soon at Burch Ridge. The road is good, it’s away from the hillside and is low maintenance. We are going to give this section to the three corporations bordering it and we will buy right of ways and put the new road near or on the eastern hillside. Even if the corporations involved paid the $20 million plus per mile costs, we would be left with a higher maintenance road that will not improve travel or create economic development.
This 7-mile, two-phase project, begins at Burch Ridge. Here is the shuttered, 400-acre Colombian Chemicals plant with river and rail access. It has been for sale for 10 YEARS! So much for needed commercial acreage! Additionally this project ends in Proctor where a 40-mile, two-lane road to Parkersburg begins! Widening W.Va. 2 for 7 miles achieves nothing and requires taxpayers to borrow at least $120 million. There are many other truly needed road projects.
The Roads to Prosperity program was initiated with a special expensive election held on a Saturday, and 11% of registered voters went to the polls that day. Eleven percent! Eighty percent of them approved the program. Since then, Gov. Justice has used these monies for road maintenance expenses which were not allowed in the original legislation. This widening project is very expensive, has a huge environmental footprint and will have no impact on “prosperity.”
Your editorial states that this project “will be good for tens of thousands of area residents — who owe a debt of gratitude to the dreamers.” Tens of thousands??? However, you are right about the debt — $20 million plus per mile!