MASON/PUTNAM COUNTIES, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A $51 million project to upgrade U.S. 35 in Mason and Putnam counties is expected to be complete by October of next year, state officials announced Friday.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Commissioner of Highways Jimmy Wriston say crews have been working overtime to complete the project, which includes a 37-mile stretch of new roadway. The work has been awarded to West Virginia Paving, Inc. of Dunbar.
“Today we are beginning a new look,” Justice said during a news conference.
Jennifer Hughes says she puts many miles on Route 35 to go see her family in Columbus. She says this upgrade is going to make a difference and she's excited for it.
"I'm just really excited to hear that it's going to be expanded because, I think that will save a lot of people a lot of time traveling up North," said Hughes.
Hughes says traffic and accidents are not uncommon on Route 35 but she's hopeful with this upgrade, that will change.
The project, which is part of the state's Roads to Prosperity program, will upgrade U.S. 35 to four lanes, making access easier from West Virginia to major cities like Columbus, Ohio.
Justice said the current two-lane stretch of roadway is unsafe.
“The economic impact of this is infinite," Justice said during the news conference. "I mean, it is absolutely infinite. Without any question, if you had the ability to locate in Ohio or you could locate in West Virginia and you knew your goods had to transport on roads or your people had to come to work on roads that you felt unsafe, you wouldn’t want to come here.”
Officials say the project will not raise taxes and will help expand tourism in the state. They explained that current work consists of grading final stretches of the roadway.
When the overall project is finished, state officials say the 37 consecutive miles of four-lane highway will stretch from the Interstate 64 exit at Scott Depot and continue all the way to Point Pleasant and the Ohio state line.
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