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Wriston says R-cut project in Kanawha County ‘functioning just as we promised’

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Jimmy Wriston, the Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation and Commissioner of Highways says it will take more than a year to fully evaluate it but he sees promise after the completion of the much talked about R-Cut project on Oakwood Road in Kanawha County.

The R-cut, standing for Restricted Crossing U-Turn, is meant to create fewer conflict points, which are places where traffic intersects at lights, and reduce the potential for traffic accidents and travel time. The first-ever R-cut in West Virginia is now on that traditionally busy stretch of U.S. Route 119 in Charleston, also called Corridor G.

Wriston said road crews finished up ‘punch list’ items such as paving, painting and sign configurations in the past few weeks after it opened to traffic at the beginning of fall. The project garnered much attention as it eliminated the left-hand turn and straight through at the Oakwood Road intersection.

“We saved $25 million on this project, we demonstrated that engineering has value and we have increased the level of service in that area,” Wriston told MetroNews.

“It is functioning just as we promised. We were right and all the skeptics were wrong.”

The project started in August 2020 and the bid price was $5.8 million by Mountaineer Contractors. DOH officials said this was not the original project plan for the interchange, which was first estimated to be $30 million.

With the new traffic pattern, motorists coming from the east side of Oakwood Road who want to head north on Corridor G toward Charleston turn right like they always have. Drivers who want to head south toward Southridge Shopping Center or go back onto Oakwood Road turn right and proceed north to the new R-Cut at Hickory Road, where a traffic light allows them to turn left onto Corridor G heading south.

Drivers coming from the west side of Oakwood who want to head south toward Southridge Center turn right like they always have. Drivers who want to head north toward Charleston or get back onto Oakwood Road instead turn right and proceed to the new R-Cut at Lawndale Lane, where a traffic light allows them to turn left onto Corridor G heading north, the DOH explained.

During it’s open in late August, Ryan Canfield the DOH project manager told MetroNews the R-Cut would cut the wait time from three minutes to one minute for those on Oakwood Road and on Corridor G.

Wriston said while the DOH is still collecting data, signs point to the original estimates.

“We’ve cut those wait times at the stop conditions in half. The full-flowing motion is going over there. It’s performing just as we modeled it to date,” Wriston said.

Wriston did not rule out the R-cut being used elsewhere in the state but said the DOH will not force it. He said no one solution fits all.

“I hate to tell you we are a solution looking for a problem but if we look at an area that had similar conditions and similar issues, and that turned out to be the right solution, absolutely we would do this again,” Wriston said.

Wriston added this project will fit in with work going on at Jefferson Road in Charleston and RHL Boulevard, reducing congestion in that area.

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