MASON COUNTY —Upgrades to one of the most talked about 14 miles of road are closer to completion.
Upgrades to the 14-mile section of U.S. 35 which drops from four to two lanes through portions of Mason County into Putnam County began nearly a year ago and there are currently 2.4 miles left to complete. After these 2.4 miles are completed, paving of the entire 14-mile stretch will be started and completed.
According to Carrie Bly, communications specialist with the West Virginia Department of Transportation, the remaining 2.4 miles of upgrades are from the Buffalo Bridge to Plantation Rd. in Putnam County. Bly said work on this remaining stretch halted about a month ago due to some utilities which were in the way of constructing a piling wall. This work is slated to start again in late March.
This work includes not only putting in piling walls but widening the shoulders. This section of the project was estimated to cost $7.5 million and was known as the second phase.
The other section of the project which included the two-lane section of U.S. 35 through Mason County was estimated to cost $10.6 million, and, again, was completed last year - this section was known as the first phase. This work included the installation of culverts, stabilization work, including installation of piling along certain sections of the 11-mile stretch which were prone to slides, and fill work in order to widen the road.
West Virginia Paving of Dunbar was the primary contractor for this first phase while Alan Stone Company of Cutler, Ohio, is the contractor on phase two.
When completed, the upgrades will include four-foot shoulders on both sides of the two-lane section of U.S. 35 which currently begins around Cornstalk Rd. in Southern Mason County and extends to the Buffalo Bridge in Putnam County.
Despite the recent upgrades, the “completion” of U.S. 35 remains on the minds of many local officials - this completion being defined as taking those 14 miles of two lane road and extending them into four lanes of open highway.
Recently, the Mason County Commission met with representatives from Congressman Nick J. Rahall’s office about the importance of the road’s completion. As Commissioner Rick Handley said during the meeting, this project was basically 14.6 miles which were needed for the entire country. Those 14.6 miles link Michigan to Florida, Handley explained.