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 http://go.wv.gov/dotcomment, under Engineering Projects/I-79 Interchange.