College Ave. turning lane should be finished in about one month

BUCKHANNON — One month. Just one more month.

Two local West Virginia Division of Highways officials said Tuesday that’s the answer to the most frequently asked question they field — “When will the McDonald’s turning lane project be finished?”

The purpose of the $1.3 million project is to facilitate more efficient traffic flow by establishing a three-lane section of road from the intersection of Route 20 and Marion Street to the intersection of East Victoria Street, approximately 770 feet. When the project is finished, traffic headed south on Route 20 will be able to efficiently make a left-hand turn onto College Avenue, minimizing wait time.

Although the DOH isn’t performing the work itself — the state contracted the project out to A.L.L. Construction in Mt. Storm — it’s responsible for overseeing the project’s completion. And as a far as a firm finish date, area construction supervisor Keith Loar said a “realistic time frame” for the project’s completion is the end of September or beginning of October.

“We’re hoping to have it done by the end of September, beginning of October,” Loar said. “Our role is to inspect to make sure things are being placed as directed by the plans.”

That’s more than five months after its scheduled completion date of April 20, 2018. Loar said a number of road bumps have delayed the project.

“The project has had numerous delays, and there have been various reasons for the delays, but the biggest factor has been the weather and the primary contractor’s (A.L.L. Construction) late start,” Loar said.

A.L.L. Construction was given notice to proceed on the project in July 2017, but still hadn’t broken ground in January 2018, according to a previous Record Delta story.

In addition, there were a number of “necessary realignments” the contractor had to undertake, including changes to the locations of sewer lines, water lines and storm sewer lines, Loar said. Navigating steady traffic flow in the area has also played a role, and a problem with a subcontractor supplying the turn signal popped up along the way.

“One of the subcontractors that was originally set up for the project is no longer allowed to do business with the state of West Virginia,” Loar said, “so an alternate subcontractor was introduced to the project.”

So, what’s left on the project’s to-do list? Several drainage structures must be installed and connected to the city’s storm sewer system; sidewalks must be graded and poured on both sides of Route 20, complete with ADA-compliant ramps; and paving and widening of the road must take place.

“We also have to tie in the final drainage structure from McDonald’s at the south end of the project,” Loar added. He noted a completely new traffic signal system that will include a stop light, left-hand turn signal, a pedestrian-friendly push-button mechanism and new LED lighting for pedestrians must be put into place.

Later Tuesday afternoon, Jason Tharp, District 7 construction engineer, echoed Loar’s comments at an informational event in Weston intended to brief counties on the status of Gov. Jim Justice’s Roads to Prosperity initiative, commonly referred to as the road bond.

“Currently that project is beyond its original completion date,” Tharp told city and council officials. “The original completion date for that project was April 20. We are well aware that that’s a slow-moving project. There are a lot of underground utilities that have to be worked around — individual underground utilities, several water line replacements, sewer replacements, storm drains.”

“We’re currently installing sidewalks, but after that, the paving and the signals will be put in,” he added. “To answer the question, hopefully by the end of September or beginning of October.”

Earlier this week, District 7 engineer Brian Cooper apologized to residents who have been inconvenienced by the slow progress.

“Everybody’s been as patient as they can be,” Cooper told The Record Delta Monday. “I appreciate the public’s patience as we work through this project and get it wrapped up here soon.”


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