7:00am: West Virginia Outdoors with Chris Lawrence

Construction begins on fairgrounds underpass Tuesday

FAIRLEA, W.Va. — Work begins Tuesday on the $1.6 million federally financed project that is expected to improve access to the state Fairgrounds in Fairlea.

State Division of Highways spokesperson Carrie Bly said a contractor will demolish the current pedestrian walkway that goes over U.S. 219 South and construct a pedestrian underpass.

“The overpass and entrance that’s in place now is not ADA compliant and also for an older population, or anyone with any kind of disability, it’s quite a hike up that,” Bly said.

So instead of using the walkway many fairgoers usually decide to cross the busy highway from the parking lot on their own through the traffic, which Bly said can be dangerous, especially for those in wheelchairs.

Bly said the project is being financed with federal money, because of the ADA issue, and the West Virginia State Fair itself is contributing 20 percent of the total cost.

The underpass will not be a tunnel. Bly said there’s a natural incline in that section of the highway.

“There won’t really be any major digging. It basically be a culvert underneath the roadway and you’ll be able to walk through,” she said.

A U.S. Route 219 detour begins Tuesday morning and is scheduled to continue through July 15. Bly said the detour goes through the fairgrounds parking lot.

The new pedestrian underpass is expected to be ready for the start of the fair in August but not for the The Greenbrier Classic Concert Series in July.

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