PUTNAM COUNTY, WV – Gov. Jim Justice and leaders from the West Virginia Department of Transportation held an event today to announce that the contract for work upgrading US Route 35 has been awarded to West Virginia Paving, Inc. of Dunbar.
“This project has truly been one of my very top priorities,” Gov. Justice said. “That’s why it’s such an exciting day to be able to announce that we’re moving forward with the next steps of this process and that you’re going to see us breaking ground very soon.”
The announcement was made from the WVDOT/Division of Highways US-35 Expressway Headquarters, near the Buffalo Bridge. The facility overlooks the location where construction on the highway upgrades are set to begin.
The scope of work for the project includes measures to increase driver safety, while also decreasing the drive time on the route.
“As we bring more and more business and people into West Virginia, US-35 has become a pipeline between us, Columbus and other major cities,” Gov. Justice said. “But for years before I walked in the door, all that excitement coming to us has always needed to drive on a 2-lane road to get here.
"It's a crying shame that this project and so many others have taken this long. That's what we've done in West Virginia because we didn’t have the vision, we didn’t have the money and we didn’t have the creativity," Gov. Justice said. "We, absolutely, are getting old and dying before anything happens.
"I don’t live in that world. We are better than that, just flat better than that," Gov. Justice said. “Now, through my Roads to Prosperity program, we are getting it done, putting our best foot forward, and soon we'll be welcoming people to our state with a top-of-the-line highway. It is exactly what we need in this state."
The project calls for paving 14.6 miles, expanding US-35 to 4-lanes from the Buffalo Bridge to one mile north of County Route 40 in Mason County.
When the project is complete, US-35 will have 37 consecutive miles of 4-lane highway, beginning at the Interstate 64 exit at Scott Depot and continuing straight though to Point Pleasant and the Ohio state line.
This construction will also reduce backup from tractor trailers, which heavily utilize the route. About 19,000 total vehicles travel on US-35 in West Virginia each day. Of those vehicles, approximately 30% are large trucks.
“This is going to make our drivers safer and it’s going to make the trip to West Virginia so much faster that you’ll have people from out of state decide to take day trips and go shopping and explore when otherwise they would have just stayed at home,” Gov. Justice said. “It tickles me to death that we are building this road and we are going to get it built fast.”
With preliminary grading work already complete, crews will be able to begin paving after a short final grading process. The estimated completion date for the US-35 project is October 2020.
A total of $51 million has been awarded for this project. It is funded by 80% federal aid funds and 20% state funds.