CHARLESTON, W.Va. --The last year brought several road improvements to West Virginia highways, including the opening of a new section of Corridor H, resurfacing of numerous highways and the new Nitro-St. Albans bridge to name a few. There was also progress made on planning future projects locally, including public meetings on a sidewalk replacement project for the Dunbar Toll Bridge, widening of a section of Interstate 64 between Nitro and Teays Valley and improvements on Jefferson Road in South Charleston.For 2014, state Department of Transportation officials are anticipating another round of highway improvements throughout the state."We're excited about 2014," said department spokesman Brent Walker. "We feel like we've got a lot of extremely important projects to care about."Locally, a few major projects are already funded and scheduled for next year, like the sidewalk project for the Dunbar Toll Bridge, the new Elk River bridge to Coonskin Park and streetscape projects in Nitro, St. Albans, Dunbar and Charleston, which are funded by grants. Other projects will continue to be in planning stages.Further, the state plans to conduct another round of paving and resurfacing work around the state and in Kanawha County."Our thought is it's important to preserve...and maintain those routes," Walker said. "We try to always have a fairly hearty resurfacing program."But that's not all. Resurfacing, the bridge projects and the streetscape work are among the 38 projects or steps of projects that are scheduled for 2014 in Kanawha County under the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.
Other goals the Department of Transportation has in the works include lighting improvements along U.S. 60 in Jefferson, continued planning and right-of-way acquisition for Jefferson Road improvements in South Charleston, a new stop light at Call Road and Sissonville Drive, several resurfacing projects, new signage along Interstate 79 from milepost 0 to 76, improvements at Slack Plaza using grant money and construction of trails at Ridenour Lake and along the Coal River.In Putnam County, the department has six items on its wish list, including preliminary and planning work for right-of-way acquisition for a project to widen Interstate 64 to six lanes between Nitro and Teays Valley.For now, the bulk of those projects are technically only goals, as actual completion is dependent on one major factor -- funding.While some work is already funded through federal grants or other secured money, other projects still need to secure a definite source of funding before construction can begin."We just don't know about road projects," Walker said, later adding, "It will get to a point where we've done all we can and just need to find funding. We have to build usable pieces."Walker said funding projects is often done on what is essentially a rolling basis. That means the Department of Transportation usually secures funding for a given project as said project becomes ready for construction.
Before groundbreaking, the department has to go through numerous regulations and studies, the scope of which depends on the type of work being performed. For example, new highways have to comply with many more regulations than a simple resurfacing project."It's normally seven years plus before we even see a shovel in the dirt," Walker said of the time from when the first planning starts to actual construction. "We're always excited when we can move these things forward."A full listing of proposed projects can be found in the Division of Highways' six-year Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Murphy@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him on Twitter @DMLocalGov and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ DailyMailLocalGov