Designs for Jefferson Road corridor shown at forum
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The state Division of Highways unveiled seven potential designs for a new five-lane corridor that would replace the existing Jefferson Road, which connects MacCorkle Avenue to Corridor G in South Charleston.
About a dozen Department of Transportation traffic experts and engineers attended a public forum at the South Charleston Community Center Tuesday evening to discuss the new plans with the public.
Officials believe the alternative road designs would significantly reduce the traffic congestion that has plagued the area.
"We want to keep people moving," said Carrie Bly, spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation. "It's a problem area that needs to be addressed, so that's why we're here."
Bly said traffic engineers have conducted extensive studies on traffic flow. Depending on the time of day and conditions, engineers found commutes could last six to 20 minutes.
Congestion centers at Jefferson Road's intersection with Kanawha Turnpike. Near the intersection is a railroad crossing, which can further delay traffic.
The alternatives include widening the road to five lanes, building new bridges and re-routing the road altogether. The projects, which vary in cost from $41 million to $66 million, all are projected to increase traffic flow.
Bly said the project already has been included in the state's six-year Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, and officials believe they will have funding to start the project when the time comes.
"We are certainly making it a priority to fund this," Bly said. "We believe we can attain it."
But while officials have a rough idea of how they can proceed, Bly said nothing is set in stone.
She said Tuesday's meeting was the first phase of a lengthy process to get public comment and figure out the best way to proceed.
She said the project still was in the planning study phase.
"Everything you see today is just a loose interpretation," Bly said. "It could all change dramatically depending on the feedback we get."
The initial phase would include the improvement to Jefferson Road.
The second phase would be construction of a new connector road between Jefferson Road and the Shops at Trace Fork. The new road would be designed to ease the congestion that occurs along RHL Boulevard during the holiday shopping season.
Bly said the highways division already has purchased the land needed to build that road, but officials are holding off on construction until the new Jefferson Road is complete.
She said the existing Jefferson Road could not handle the projected increase in traffic the Trace Fork connector would create.
"We don't want to put more traffic on that road as it is," she said. "Until this project is done, we won't do that."
Bob Anderson, director of the South Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau, reviewed the plans Tuesday afternoon and said city leaders were excited to see the Division of Highways targeting a 2015 construction date.
"This is really surprising to me that we're looking at 2015," Anderson said. "We were thinking we may have to wait five or so years. We're excited about it being sooner rather than later."
Anderson also said the highways division's decision to move ahead could spur future investment along Corridor G.
"It's just going to bloom Corridor G even more," he said.
But not everyone is sold on the plan.
Some were upset to find their homes might be affected.
Don Glazier, 78, lives along Jefferson Road near the State Police headquarters. He said each scenario runs right over the home he has lived in for 45 years.
He and Jim Rizzo, a 72-year-old Park Street resident who has lived directly behind Glazier for 37 years, said highways officials should have found a way to use non-residential land to build the road.
"I think they've got other options," Rizzo said.
He and Glazier suggested building a new exit and road off Interstate 64 that would run on vacant commercial property along Davis Creek to divert traffic to Corridor G.
"That wouldn't affect any houses at all," Glazier said.
Bly said officials will accept additional public comments through April 15.
Individuals who did not make it to the presentation Tuesday can go to www.go.wv.gov/dotcomment to review the plans and submit a comment.
After comments have been received and reviewed, officials will begin an engineering and environmental review.
This fall officials plan to hold another public forum to go over engineering and environmental evaluations and present their preferred design.
Once the preferred design is selected, officials will do right-of-way work, property acquisition and utility relocation throughout 2014, leading to the beginning of construction sometime in 2015.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at email@example.com or 304-348-4836.