$11M projected for W.Va. Route 2
NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va. —
$1.6 billion will now be invested across the state of West Virginia for a slew of road projects after voters approved Gov. Jim Justice’s road bond referendum, but how much of it will we see in the Northern Panhandle?
Officials tell NEWS9 $11 million of that is projected to be used to widen Route 2 in New Cumberland.
“It's not the safest place in the world, especially for pedestrian traffic,” said Mayor Richard Blackwell.
Blackwell is referring to the stretch of West Virginia Route 2 that runs through the town. While the majority of the traveling public navigates the tight roadway properly, Blackwell says outside commercial traffic that has caused accidents in the past. But that safety issue is also an economic issue.
“We have been looked over twice in Hancock County for a large petrochemical company," said Pat Ford, executive director of the Business Development Corporation.
Ford says the county was passed over for one reason: infrastructure.
“Specifically roads, we have roads that are deficient that cut off the northern part of Hancock County," he said.
Any potential business that wants to allocate in northern Hancock County would have to use Route 2 in New Cumberland.
“It is difficult to get a major flow of truck traffic safely through New Cumberland,” Ford said.
“For years, and years and years, Weirton Steel was the biggest employer and the biggest tax payer in West Virginia, but we got nothing up here as far as road-wise infrastructure," Blackwell said.
With the passing of the road bond referendum, an $11 million proposal to widen Route 2 in New Cumberland is in the works. However, Ford says it will be at least 2 years before residents see any changes.
“We need to pick the alignment,” he said. “Once we pick the alignment, that alignment then needs to be engineered. Once it's engineered then it needs to be put out to bid. Once it's put out to bid, then it needs to be built."
While change is further down the road, Ford is optimistic about the green light it will give to big business.
“This specific road bond will allow us to expedite the road improvements through New Cumberland, that will allow open up at least $2 billion of private investment,” he said.
Ford says roughly $320 million from the road bond referendum is expected to be spent in the Northern Panhandle.