WINFIELD, W.Va. — A glimmer of hope for completing U.S. 35 between Buffalo and Point Pleasant came before the Putnam County Commission Tuesday morning.
"I understand that Mason County has sent a letter to the governor supporting the four-laning of the remaining old route 35 using provision of Senate Bill 190," County Manager Brian Donat told commissioners.
The bill passed in the last legislative session and changes the restrictions on public-private partnerships in such a way that U.S. 35 could now be privately financed using state highway funds.
U.S. 35 is a heavily traveled trucking route that was once notorious for deadly head-on collisions. A new four-lane freeway now begins at the interchange with Interstate 64 near Scott Depot and continues to Buffalo. The four-lane picks up again just outside of Point Pleasant, but the stretch between there and Buffalo remains unimproved and treacherous.
Completing the four-lane is a high priority for both the counties it traverses and the state, but the project is expensive. The last plan called for tolls and was nixed by the local county commissions after public opinion came out opposed.
That was more than two years ago.
Since then troubles have continued on the old two-lane road, and several bad wrecks have happened at the transition between the new four-lane and old two-lane at the Buffalo Bridge. Donat suggested commissioners send a letter similar to Mason County's to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin encouraging him to explore new funding possibilities to complete the four-lane.
"The completion of 35 is going to mean a lot to Mason County, Putnam County, Kanawha County, West Virginia as a whole," Commission President Joe Haynes said. "I think if there's a window of opportunity here that we ought to be on board saying we support it."