Paving contract awarded for Route 35 ‘gap project’

BUFFALO, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice said he used to do some grouse hunting in Putnam and Mason counties when he was a student at Marshall University and he remembers the two-lane U.S. Route 35. Justice announced Friday the last stretch of two-lane highway will switch-over to a full-lane road by October 2020.

Gov. Jim Justice, right, and acting Highways Commissioner Jimmy Wriston announced the paving project Friday.

Justice and acting state Highways Commissioner Jimmy Wriston announced at a ceremony near Buffalo that paving would begin in the coming months on the 15-mile ‘gap section.’

U.S. Route 35 stretches for 37 miles in West Virginia and it’s four-lanes on both ends near Point Pleasant on the west and near Scott Depot on the east. On Jan. 19, 2015, then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called for the completion of the 15-mile stretch.

The grade and drain work began in 2016 with Lexington, Kentucky-based Bizzack Construction as the main contractor. Since then, nearly 17 million cubic yards of earth has been moved and 7.3 linear miles of pipe installed. Contractors have also built eight bridges.

Wriston said Friday the preparation work is almost done which will allow for the $51 million four-lane paving project to begin. Wriston said a separate contract will deal with the connection of the current 4-lane near the Buffalo Bridge to the new stretch of highway.

“We’ve got these two projects cued up in time and they will actually get finished at the same time,” Wriston said. “We’ll be able to cut a ribbon out here (in October 2020) and we’ll actually have 37 miles of brand-new four-lane modern highway to drive safely on.”

Gov. Justice said the project makes him proud.

“It connects Columbus (OH) to I-64, it’s exactly what we need in this state,” Justice said.

Justice said it’s difficult put a figure on how the new highway will impact the economy.

“The economic impact of this is infinite. I mean it’s absolutely infinite,” he said.

The U.S. Route 35 completion project is one of Roads to Prosperity bond projects.

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