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State sets public meeting on 522 bypass project

WV DOH map of bypass project

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UPDATED April 3 with DOH Bypass project map

by KATE SHUNNEY

The West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) has set a public meeting on April 19 to gather comments and offer project details about a proposed U.S. 522 bypass around Berkeley Springs and a connector road from U.S. 522 to Fairview Drive toward War Memorial Hospital.

A legal notice about the meeting will be published in the next two editions of The Morgan Messenger.

The bypass project was one of 15 Morgan County projects that highway officials said are planned and county be funded through a special Road Bond, which voters approved during an October 2017 special election.

According to the DOH, the bypass project would involve reconstructing U.S. 522 as a four-lane highway around Berkeley Springs at a cost of roughly $40 million. The long-planned and debated bypass would begin at Winchester Grade Road and end at Sandmine Road, according to the DOH meeting announcement.

Construction of a two-lane connector road between U.S. 522 and Fairview Drive in the area of War Memorial Hospital is expected to cost $6 million. That roadway was been on the drawing board for more than a decade.

DOH officials will hold an information meeting on Thursday, April 19 at Berkeley Springs High School from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. No formal presentations by highways officials will be made, but information packets will be available to attendees. The public will have a chance to ask questions and give written comments on the project.

Information about the project will also be posted on the West Virginia DOH website, and comments can be submitted through that website and by mail through Monday, May 21. At press time, project information was not posted on the state website.

27 Comments

  1. David Willis on March 27, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    If completed this will have a great positive effect on downtown. It might actually be pleasant to eat at a sidewalk table in front ot Teri’s.

  2. Carol Miller on March 27, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    If approved this will kill the downtown. Nobody will drive through to see the park, the hotel, the restaurants, the stores. They will take the bypass to avoid traffic signals. I have seen this happen to many small towns. If you don’t like the trucks simply put a weigh station north and south of town. Strictly enforce the laws regarding them. Fewer will want to deal with the hassle and you will still get the tourist trade. THINK about more than yourselves, think about what will happen to this town. Personally, I would be happier if they spent this kind of money on our schools.

    • George on March 27, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      What is it with people and big trucks. If trucks stop America stops. US highway 522 is a US highway they are allowed to drive on it.

    • Martin on May 21, 2018 at 9:23 am

      As a relative newcomer to the area, I understand your confusion and lack of information regarding the overall impact to our town. I would argue that your perspective has a short-term, narrow focus rather than a long-term broad perspective that is necessary for truly understanding such a complex situation. I also understand that everyone is entitled to their opinion based up on their understanding of the situation so let me give you a little additional background.

      I grew up in the town and worked in the spa industry for 20 years and I can assure you that Jeanie and numerous others are, and were, wrong about the detrimental effect that a 522 bypass would have upon the town. As traffic volume significantly increased in the 1990s, numerous regular tourists/customers started commenting on how the town had ceased being quaint and enjoyable because of the constant automobile (including tractor and trailer traffic) through the town. By the late 90s, many were commenting on how difficult it was to simply cross the streets or even to sleep at night because of the “jake” brakes. Over time many of them stopped visiting as often or at all as a result of this increased traffic. The loss of Coolfont and The Country Inn followed by the economic slump only further exacerbated the issue.

      Because banning truck traffic from the highway means that highway funds (paid by truckers/trucking companies) would not be used to repair the road, that option was not pursued. Back then I had suggested to several folks in the community that limiting the weight on one of the bridges in town might be an option that would not trigger the loss of highway funds; however, no one was interested in investigating that option. Overall, I believe that the best solution is to restore Berkeley Springs to that quaint little town by giving all of that thru traffic a viable option. Berkeley Springs is getting ready to experience a major increase in growth related to an increase in jobs in the area. Consider the impact to this town and county that the addition of Proctor & Gamble, Amazon, McKesson, and other companies in Berkeley County will have upon our community. Much of the traffic resulting from that population growth will be local so it is better to build infrastructure now that will route non-local traffic around town.

      If you want to truly kill tourism in the area, then continue to fight the bypass instead of creating a better environment for attracting tourism. If a bypass is created , then support Travel Berkeley Springs and local tourist-based businesses in marketing the town effectively. This should reduce any short-term decrease in tourism while setting the stage for an eventual net increase in tourism as the “quaintness” is restored and enhanced.

  3. George on March 27, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    If this does happen everybody that is going around town is not going to stop in town so therefore the businesses are going to suffer. Proof???? Look at Hancock after that bypass was built they took a hit.

    • Mike on March 28, 2018 at 5:01 am

      Hancock as a town was basically people gathered around an intersection. Not a tourist destination. Berkeley Springs would be better compared to Summersville. How did that bypass impact the county?

      As as a community we say how we would love to have a downtown like Winchester. Yet we put up a fight when people talk about doing things that could bring that style of downtown to Berkeley Springs.

      • Marc on March 30, 2018 at 12:59 pm

        residents of Hancock would dispute that it isn’t a tourist town — they have many popular attractions….

        • Garret on May 14, 2018 at 9:11 pm

          Name one?

    • Martin on May 21, 2018 at 9:29 am

      Why does Travel Berkeley Springs exist if not to market this town to potential tourists. Hancock had neither a travel board/entity to offset nor any real tourist attraction so it is not a useful comparison.

  4. Lisa on March 27, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Bring it on! To the people saying that it will kill downtown, hogwash! This town is well known and if people want to come they will! Every trip I take out of town when people ask where I’m from, I say BS and they know it instantly. I for one do not like sitting in traffic every single time I need to get somewhere. The weekends in the summer are the worst. It takes 40 minutes sometimes to get through those lights starting at Food Lion. When you walk along the sidewalks all you hear and see are vehicles and yes big trucks, you can’t hear yourself think let alone talk to whoever you’re walking with. This is a positive thing and much needed. The big trucks destroy any paving job that gets done in town. Starting at The Warm Springs diner, look at how bad the road is at the old Sheetz. They pave the big trucks drive over and it is ruined within days, it actually looks like the road has melted.

    • Lisa on March 27, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      And I also think alot of people don’t stop because of all the traffic. I’ve watched people try to get out of their vehicle and couldn’t even open the door because of all the cars going by. The congestion at each and every light makes it hard to look for parking.. I hope this passes, I will be the first to sit outside and celebrate with a nice meal from Tari’s.

  5. Doris Fleece on March 27, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    You people and trucks make me very upset !! Have you ever been in a funeral procession and looked that who pulls over and stops till it passes, not many cars,but all trucks ! They don”t do 522 because they are over weight, or driving junk, it is to save time and get home to their family !! All of them go through a very rigid inspection to be on the roads ! also the road taxes they have to pay every state they drive through !! I am a little bias, my husband drove a truck for 41 years, no speeding tickets and no wrecks !!

    • Louie Somers on April 3, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      They whole overweight thing cracks me up. There’s no scales for them to dodge on that stretch of 81 and 70!

  6. Jan Didawick on March 28, 2018 at 5:11 am

    People complain about the trucks all of the time….now they complain about the possibility of finally seeing the bypass come to be. So funny.

  7. brenda dill on March 28, 2018 at 7:56 am

    I hope we get the by pass, I know personally I avoid going down town because of the congestion and believe less truck traffic would mean more visitor traffic.

  8. Marc on March 29, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    what kind of bypass is border-to-border????

  9. Marc on March 29, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    a real solution would be a regional approach. a bridge to connect I-70 in MD near Clear Spring, with a Rt. 9 extension improvement north of Hedgesville, would drastically cut drive time and distance between Hancock and Winchester.

    • alan on April 3, 2018 at 10:14 am

      spot on

  10. Marc on March 29, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    they would have to completely redo the EIS from scratch, which was so full of holes the first time around…

  11. Marc on March 29, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    this project was previously projected to cost nearly a quarter billion dollars in the ’90s. would cost much more now..

  12. Tracy Greiner on March 30, 2018 at 5:39 am

    We bought a mile outside of the Town of Bath 5 years ago as a weekend place and eventually retire to. I could see it if the rest of 522 was being widened from VA state line to 70 in MD. Look at the businesses and restaurants that have closed in the last 5 years. When I tell people that we go up to BS, yes people know of it but most have never been. We have watched the Studio Tour diminish as there is no draw for new artists. The Town of Bath is NOT pedestrian friendly. Tourist projects started and never finished (Train Depot). There is nothing in place to regulate speeding trucks in either direction coming into town. I have been out at 6:00 AM and watched them blow through town at 45 mph or higher with the only thing that slows them down is if the traffic lights are red. Then there is human nature – how many big rigs have ended up on bridges through out the county that they end up damaging because they are looking for the fastest/shortest route. The bypass will not eliminate big rigs from going through town.

  13. john on March 30, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Well it will be a good thing for the town,as you will see the arts district and restaurant/entertainment industry grow,as people will be able to come visit without all the traffic clogging up the town,myself I am really sorry but I did buy around here 3yrs ago,knowing there was a good chance this could happen,so it will take a small part of my property,but a large piece of my quality of life as the highway will be right on top of me,so I am glad that I dragged my feet about opening up a business here or nearby as I had been looking at some things,because I will not be comfortable next to 4 lanes of traffic,,so time to move on, “,GO WEST YOUNG MAN” ,more than likely you will start to see some of the run down homes and properties improve and values go up as this is becoming a retirement area for more and more people. So deeper into the country I will search !!

  14. Louie Somers on April 3, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    Build it! Yesterday!

  15. Vonda Clipp on April 4, 2018 at 8:06 am

    I would like to know where they are planning to bring the bypass on Fairview Dr. I live there, and they are saying it my place is where they will be bringing the bypass…anyone know the plan?

  16. Frank Rainieri on April 7, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    Infrastructure is progress

  17. Marc on April 8, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    see how the DOH is using subterfuge against us and our local paper?

  18. Linda Keefer on April 28, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    Please build it and make it the charming town it was meant to be. All that traffic, especially the trucks , ruin the ambiance.

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