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Listen to the people when deciding road project

Too often, West Virginia Division of Highways officials considering road improvements have to settle for projects that are less than ideal, because funding is limited. That is not the case regarding planned improvements to state Route 2 in New Cumberland.

For decades, motorists negotiating W.Va. 2 in the Hancock County seat of government have had to slow down to get past two 90-degree turns and two railroad crossings. DOH officials plan to do something about that with money from the Roads to Prosperity initiative.

You may recall that in October 2017, Mountain State voters approved issuance of as much as $1.6 billion in bonds to pay for hundreds of Roads to Prosperity projects. Since then, through bond sales and federal funding, about $1.3 billion has been obtained for DOH use.

In proposing the New Cumberland project, DOH officials suggested five alternatives, ranging in cost from $3.9 million to $15.9 million.

Last fall, the DOH has sought public comments on the project. Overwhelmingly, members of the public agreed that Plan 5A is best.

Each of the other options would have merely improved the sharp turns on state Route 2. Plan 5A would reroute traffic around them, allowing for smooth flow of traffic through New Cumberland.

Last week, state Sen. William Ihlenfeld, D-Ohio, sent a letter about the plan to Byrd White, who is secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation. Ihlenfeld pointed out that “the public overwhelmingly supports Alternative 5A…”

Adopting that plan “would make the bottleneck go away … and open the northern part of (Hancock) county to large freight, allowing for new industries to locate there,” Ihlenfeld wrote.

With hundreds of millions of dollars available through Roads to Prosperity, state officials need not take a halfway approach to improving state Route 2 in New Cumberland. They should adopt Plan 5A — and make it a priority for the upcoming construction season.

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