MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The new I-79 interchange project in Monongalia County is underway. The West Virginia Department of Highways held it’s first public workshop for the project on Monday.

“We’re just getting underway with what we call the NEPA process, the environmental clearance, this is our first public meeting,” says West Virginia Division of Highways Engineering Division Project Manager Will Thornton.

Clearing the environment is a requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act. It is meant to provide information and an update on the progress of the project to the public.

Attendees were provided with maps and an opportunity to discuss the project with representatives from the WVDOH and consulting firm Burgess and Niple. Areas of discussion included environmental studies, engineering, right-of-way, and relocation.

Thornton says, “We’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes to get to this point and this is our first main step to involve the public in what we’re doing. We got, surprisingly, a lot of positive feedback so far.”

The project consists of providing a new interchange on I-79 approximately halfway between Exit 152 – US 19 Westover/Morgantown (Granville) and Exit 155 – WV 7 West Virginia University (Star City/Osage/WVU Football Stadium) exits. It is part of the $96 million Morgantown Tax Increment Financing district that was signed into law by Governor Tomblin earlier this year.

Thornton says they expect to start actual construction in the summer of 2014 which, he adds, is a very aggressive schedule.

Feedback on the project is due July 26th. The WVDOH will also accept comments at, under Engineering Projects/I-79 Interchange.

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  • Buddy

    NEPA is another arcane, insane Washington dictate. It's a sad commentary that every project of this type must begin with a ritual of fealty to DC lefties.

    • Buddy Buddy Buddy

      The NEPA process is used for every project. There are just different levels of effort depending on the scope and disturbance of the project.

    • ShinnstonGuy

      If you want the barren wastleland that would come from no environmental protections, perhaps you should move to the moon.

      Otherwise, I hope the interchange plans call for an extra lane to go from Westover to Star City, as was done in Clarksburg/Bridgeport. Otherwise accidents will continue to increase as that area is not safe.

      • Adam

        I never understood why Bridgeport/Clarksburg got extra lanes on 79, yet Morgantown is growing and traffic is bad and we don't get anything.

        • Alex

          Because the folks down in Charleston absolutely hate spending money in Morgantown for some reason. I've always wondered the same thing. Like how Fairmont has that beautiful new interchange and bridge (that took almost 10 years to complete) that goes to nowhere. Meanwhile, in a city of over 100,000, we still have four interstate lanes with the rural style interchanges.

      • Slim

        or at least Shinnston

  • Eddie

    Reporter: Please review "its/it's."

    • Ragweed

      Better yet, do not use contractions in formal writing.

      • Alex

        The correct use of the word is not a contraction. They should have used its. ;)