FAIRLEA, W.Va. — A longtime hazard at the State Fair will be addressed with the construction of a new pedestrian tunnel under U.S. Route 219. The state Division of Highways has approved the project and will begin the construction process in the coming months.

“The tunnel will be located in the vicinity of where the bridge currently crosses 219,” said State Fair Executive Director Marlene Pierson-Joliffe. “It will connect the parking area and the main fairground.”

The pedestrian bridge has been in place for many years and serves a lot of the foot traffic going into the fairground. Pierson-Joliffe said however, the steep construction makes it a challenge for those trying to push a stroller or wheelchair across the bridge.

“A lot of folks want to cross on the flat at 219 and with the help of State Police we have navigated that for years,” she said. “Anytime you have pedestrians crossing into traffic or you stop traffic it’s always a challenge.”

The tunnel would eliminate mass numbers of people crossing the highway to get into the fairgrounds and would cut down on the traffic backups through Fairlea and Lewisburg which are always a challenge. Pierson-Joliffe said the tunnel will also better aid use of the fairgrounds during non-fair events which happen on small and large scales almost every weekend during the year. The biggest event is the Greenbrier Classic.

Plans call for the immediate start of preliminary work to relocate utilities. The bulk of construction will start in the spring when the snow is over and the goal is to have the tunnel finished and ready by the 2015 State Fair next August.

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  • I'm honest at least

    Is anyone else not happy with pet projects being funded by our tax dollars.

  • M

    Maybe its time to move the Fair location

  • Brian

    As a local, I'm not a big fan of the traffic congestion that accompanies fair week or the golf tournament. However, I cannot think of a better CEO than Marlene Pierson-Joliffe for the fair. If you're familiar with the area, all you have to do is drive by that facility to see the improvements she has made over her tenure, in spite of Jim Justice's impulses. She has kept her cool and brought some dignity back to the fair while Justice is trying like hell to take advantage of all of us.

    There are always aspects that we don't see, but I have total faith in Marlene to do the right thing. If she says we need a tunnel, then we need a tunnel.

  • griff

    I hope the ped bridge stays up. would rather walk over as opposed to going thru a tunnel under the road. I don't trust tunnels but understand the difficulty of the wheelchairs.