BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — The newest round of Roads To Prosperity bonds will bring some relief to traffic congestion in Berkeley Springs.
Those bonds, worth $600 million, include an allocation for the U.S. Route 522 Bypass project.
Delegate Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan, is also chair of Morgan County’s Economic Development Authority. He said expansion of the major artery has been a long time coming:
“That road was built in 1938. It is a two-lane road, 18 miles long, that bisects Morgan County. On the southern end down in Virginia, it is a four-lane divided highway that comes to the state line. On the north end, up here at Hancock, it is a four-lane (to) I-70 and I-68,” he said.
The plan calls for a dual lane highway to go around the town which Cowles said could help eliminate some traffic congestion.
“We’re a real bottleneck in this 18-mile stretch through Morgan County, but more than that,” he said. “It’s a bottleneck in downtown historic Berkeley Springs with a lot of trucks rolling through there.”
He said the new four-lane stretch will be a limited-access highway with an interchange where it meets up with Route 9 and at-grade intersections similar to what motorists see on Route 522 in Virginia.
Cowles said it’ll be easier to nail down the actual cost of the project once it goes out to bid in March. He said after the project was laid out back in 1999, the state spent about ten million dollars to buy up acreage from willing sellers in anticipation of the road expansion.
Cowles added property owners who might be affected by the by-pass project have been getting notifications, and he’s looking forward to getting some of the heavy truck traffic out of a beautiful downtown:
“Downtown streetscapes look just outstanding; the new street lamps; the cobblestone pavers on Fairfax Street — everything looks great,” he said. “Getting the trucks and pass-through cars out of town I think will slow the pace down a little bit and improve everyday life downtown.”
The new round of roads bonds is set to go out this fall.