News and Views

Herald-Mail Media : I-81 lights, Slabtown Road bridge added to transportation plan

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A lighting project for Interstate 81 in West Virginia and a new bridge in western Washington County are in the funding pipeline.

Those projects were among several amendments and adjustments made to the Hagerstown/Eastern Panhandle Metropolitan Planning Organization's Transportation Improvement Plan Wednesday. HEPMPO's decision-making body, the Interstate Council, unanimously approved the changes during a meeting in Martinsburg, W.Va.

The lighting project includes upgrades and enhancements along the 26 miles of Interstate 81 through Berkeley County, W.Va., including the rest areas, according to information provided at Wednesday's meeting.

Wednesday's move designates $500,000 in Fiscal Year 2018 for engineering work. Of that total, $450,000 would come from the federal government and $50,000 would come from the state.

It also schedules $8 million for construction in Fiscal Year 2020. Of that total, $7.2 million would come from the federal government and $800,000 would come from the state, according to HEPMPO.

The council also scheduled funding to build a bridge where Slabtown Road crosses Licking Creek, north of Pecktonville and east of Hancock. The project is on the county's 10-year capital improvement plan.

Wednesday's action allocates $1 million for construction in Fiscal Year 2022 and $2.6 million in Fiscal 2023.

Of the $3.6 million total, $2.835 million would come from federal coffers, and $765,000 would come from local sources, according to HEPMPO.

There is no bridge at the crossing now, said Steve Thomas, HEPMPO's transportation planner. Drivers ford the creek.

According to the county's capital improvement plan, "The existing ford presents a safety hazard for vehicles during storm events."

The plan notes that "many vehicles would travel this road when the interstate (I-70) is closed due to an accident." The project will reduce the detour length by about 7 miles.

The council also approved changes in the plan for:

• Phase II of the Halfway Boulevard Extension. The project is part of a larger plan to connect Md. 63 and the existing Halfway Boulevard. The action Wednesday designated federal construction funds of $2 million for Fiscal Year 2020.

• Col. Henry K. Douglas Drive Extended. The adjustment shifted $2 million in federal construction money from Fiscal Year 2018 to Fiscal Year 2019, the anticipated year of the expense. The project also includes $1.22 million in local construction money for Fiscal Year 2017, according to HEPMPO.

HEPMPO is the federal- and state-designated regional transportation planning body for Washington County, Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia, and a small portion of Franklin County, Pa.

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