by Kate Shunney
Original plans to start construction on the U.S. 522 Bypass last summer have shifted toward this spring, but highway officials say the project is unchanged and still funded.
West Virginia Division of Highways construction manager Daniel Watts said environmental permitting is now in place for the 3.4-mile, four-lane bypass that will begin south of Sheetz at Winchester Grade Road and run to Fairfax Street at Martinsburg Road.
West Virginia awarded the construction contract to Trumbull Corporation of Pennsylvania in October 2020. The company beat out eight other companies with their bid of $59.8 million. At that time, the completion date for the bypass was November 2023.
Watts said the state will have to extend that date because of the “hurdles” they’ve run into getting started on the road project.
The DOH has yet to acquire all of the land parcels it needs along the bypass route. Watts couldn’t say how many pieces of land were still in negotiation.
The first steps in the bypass construction process will be relocating utilities in the path of the new road. Watts said those utilities include electric, phone and fiberoptic lines, particularly along Winchester Grade Road and Sugar Hollow Road.
Crews will also have to demolish any structures that are in the path of the bypass. That includes outbuildings and homes.
Trumbull is still planning to start road construction on the south end of the bypass route and move north in a linear fashion. Watts said one exception to that might be in there are several connected parcels where the contractor could start to do site work. Trumbull may also start work on three bridges ahead of the roadway construction.
Spring is when dirt may start to move, said Watts. He confirmed that funds for the bypass project are still intact.
“I’m hoping things can get going in April,” he said.