A 53-year vision realized: Gov. Justice holds grand opening ceremony for final section of U.S. Route 35

11/11/2021

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1,000 projects now complete through Gov. Justice’s Roads to Prosperity program
HIGHLIGHTS:
  • Gov. Justice opens U.S. Route 35; the largest single-contract project in the history of his Roads to Prosperity program.
  • Drone video and high-resolution images available for media download.
  • Event doubles as tribute to Veterans Day.
  • Program concludes with public parade along new highway.
CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice today held a grand opening ceremony for the largest single-contract project in his visionary Roads to Prosperity program, cutting the ribbon on the final 14.6-mile section of four-lane U.S. Route 35.

MEDIA DOWNLOAD: Drone video and high-resolution images of U.S. Route 35 at various stages of construction are available here

“What you see here today is a tremendous achievement,” Gov. Justice said. “I thank everybody that put into licks to make this a reality; to make all this goodness happen.”

Gov. Justice was joined for the ceremony by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, and U.S. Congresswoman Carol Miller, leaders with the Federal Highway Administration and the West Virginia Department of Transportation, and other officials.
Completion of the massive project was made possible through Gov. Justice’s $2.8 billion Roads to Prosperity highway construction and maintenance program. The program, addressing roads and bridges all over the Mountain State, is the most aggressive highway construction program in West Virginia history.

In terms of dollar-value, the $257 million U.S. Route 35 project is the largest single-contract Roads to Prosperity project in the entire program. The project was funded through a combination of state and federal dollars.

Completion of the project will now allow travelers to utilize a safe highway to accommodate increased traffic demands in the area. Motorists will be able to drive on smooth, four-lane pavement for 37 consecutive miles, beginning at the Interstate 64 exit at Scott Depot and continuing straight through to Point Pleasant and the Ohio state line, heading toward Columbus.

“I used to hunt around here all the time years ago. I would drive 35, and at times it seemed a little dangerous. I’ve always thought, if there was ever a place that needed a bigger road, it’s this,” Gov. Justice said.
“What a great day. To say I’m elated is a total understatement,” Senator Capito said. “I want to thank you, Governor Justice, and your Transportation Secretary, Jimmy Wriston, for the hard work, for the dedication. Obviously, Roads to Prosperity is working. We see it here today and we’re extremely grateful. It's exciting to think about the safety. It's exciting to think about the ease of transportation and the ease of moving cargo...This is a major, major thoroughfare and I’m very excited.”
“When I was governor...we started working. All but 15 miles were completed by 2010. This was a tough one. But we worked and worked and worked, and committed ourselves to getting this done, and Governor [Justice], making that commitment, it takes all of us working together to put the commitment to making this final product,” Senator Manchin said. “Congratulations to all of those who have been so involved in making this day happen. We know we have a lot of accidents here. It's going to save a lot of people's lives. And I'm so grateful.”
“It’s such an honor to be able to see this road that is so well-traveled become safer and better to drive,” Congresswoman Miller said. “You all who live here know the accidents that we’ve had for many, many years, and I think this is going to cut those way, way down...I want to thank our great governor, Jim Justice, for making the completion of U.S. 35 possible. With his $2.8 billion Roads to Prosperity bond, he got it done. He worked hard to get it done, and I'm so proud that he had the vision to push through.”
In addition to creating 10 new bridges and a new interchange where U.S. Route 35 meets WV 869, the project required a completely new alignment for the highway. Work crews moved approximately 16.8 million cubic yards of earth, laid more than 73,000 tons of asphalt, and put in more than 38,000 feet of drainage pipe for the project.

“This is not only a great day for Putnam County and for Mason County. This is a great day for all of West Virginia,” said State Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E. “This will be a safe, modern highway. It'll protect lives.

“My favorite saying that the Governor has is ‘you have to know the difference between effort and achievement,’” Wriston continued. “Well, today is a great achievement. Fifty-three years in the making. Nine governors presided over this project. Governor Justice’s great vision – the Roads to Prosperity program – got it done. Today, we have an achievement.”
“What began as a dream of the folks here and Mason and Putnam counties was a line on a piece of paper in 1992-1993, when we started on this, and today, it's a safe, modern, four-lane highway,” said Ed Compton, Director of Engineering and Operations, Federal Highway Administration. “I'd like to thank the men and women behind the scenes who did so much of the work…Most importantly, the construction people who, for the last 30 years, have worked so tirelessly on this, especially the men and women who, over the last two years, worked every day through a worldwide pandemic.”
The completion of U.S. Route 35 is the realization of a project more than 50 years in the making.

In 1968, following the collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, planning was set in motion to move the U.S. 35 project forward – changing the alignment of the old Route 35. Generations struggled to complete this roadway. But now, thanks to Gov. Justice’s commitment to transforming West Virginia’s transportation infrastructure, this 53-year dream is now a reality.

The southbound lanes of the new road are officially open today, with the northbound lanes to follow next week.
Gov. Justice also announced today that the completion of U.S. 35 marks a milestone, as the 1,000th project to have been completed through the Roads to Prosperity program.

In addition to the ribbon-cutting festivities, today’s ceremony doubled as a Veterans Day tribute to West Virginia Veterans, as well as all men and women in uniform across the United States.

“First and foremost, we should absolutely salute and be so appreciative of the fact that it's Veterans Day,” Gov. Justice said. “I say it all the time, our Veterans have given us every single thing that we have in this life, and too often we take it for granted. They have given so much, and asked for so little, it’s unbelievable. So today, we thank and we honor our Veterans.”
“West Virginia is the most patriotic state in the nation,” said West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance Secretary Ted Diaz. “West Virginians have always been there when our country is called. Roughly one-in-10 adults in our state is a Veteran. This is much higher than the national average. Myself, and more than 144,000 of my brother and sister Veterans call this state our home. 

“For their service and sacrifice throughout the years, we owe our Veterans and their families our unwavering respect and our gratitude,” Secretary Diaz continued.

“I’m both honored and humbled to have been asked to speak at the opening of this magnificent stretch of highway. This highway is so very important to the economic development of our state, and, as we are the most patriotic state in the union, it is appropriate that such an important event be held on Veterans Day.”
The event featured musical performances by General Admission, the Winfield High School Show Choir; the Black Knight Marching Band from Point Pleasant High School; and the Marching Generals from Winfield High School.
Following the grand opening ceremony, Gov. Justice led a parade of vehicles along the new stretch of highway to Point Pleasant, and then back to Buffalo.
In addition to the officials who participated in the ceremony, hundreds of local residents joined in on the motorcade to celebrate the opening of Route 35.
MEDIA DOWNLOAD: Drone video and high-resolution images of U.S. Route 35 at various stages of construction are available here
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Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov

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