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Tag Archive: NEPA

  1. State taking comments on bridge project slated to begin in spring 2024

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    A barge has been deployed and a contractor working with the West Virginia Division of Highways will start boring riverbed core samples this week as a preliminary step in the DOH’s plan to build a new bridge across the Monongahela River.

    While dates are approximate and subject to change, the DOH has said it would like to begin construction of the project — formally identified as the Morgantown Industrial Park Access Project — in the spring.

    DOH Assistant Director of Engineering Dirar Ahmad said the drilling is part of the NEPA, or National Environmental Policy Act process as well the state’s due diligence for any such project.

    “The core boring is part of the exploratory information that we need so we can make an engineering decision before we move forward,” he said. “Sometimes geology is tricky. You may have rock 60-foot deep on one side of the river, but you get to the other side and it’s deeper or it’s more shallow. We don’t take chances when it comes to the safety of the public.”

    Ahmad was one of the DOH representatives in the Westwood Middle School Gymnasium Tuesday evening for a public meeting on the project. The DOH is taking public feedback through Nov. 3.

    The state has said it intends to build the bridge by the end of 2025 to expedite interstate access for trucks headed to and from the industrial park, and specifically, Mountaintop Beverage.

    In August, the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization weighed in, selecting the state’s Alternative 3 as the bridge location.

    Alternative 3 improves the industrial park’s existing Rail Street, crosses the river on a multi-span bridge, and joins U.S. 119 (Don Knotts Boulevard) near Scott Avenue. A connection to Smithtown Road will also be provided and a portion of Master Graphics Road, connecting to River Road, will also be improved and paved.

    The state has maintained the bridge will be built in addition to a new I-79 Harmony Grove interchange, which has been in the works for years and is caught up in the federal regulatory process.

    As a resident of Master Graphics Road, Sharlene Fortney has been following that project closely from the beginning.

    She was one of multiple people at Tuesday’s meeting who said she simply cannot understand, or foresee, the state building both projects.

    “They keep saying that interchange is coming. The trucks roll by every day. I just want to know the deal. I think this bridge will help, but what’s the point of the bridge if you say you’re putting the interchange in and they’re going the same directions,” Fortney said. “They keep saying they’re doing both. That seems like an incredible amount of money to me, and it doesn’t really seem to make sense.”

    Those wishing to file written comments may do so before Nov. 3. Send comments to Travis Long, director of the Technical Support Division of the West Virginia Division of Highways, at 1334 Smith St., Charleston, WV 25301.

    Original Article by Author: Ben Conley, The Dominion Post
    Original Article Here