Short-term plans for the Tunnelton underpass

KINGWOOD — The first step in finding a solution to the Tunnelton underpass is to search for the storm water drains, Preston commissioners said Monday.

“We’re looking at about 10 different things right now,” Commission President Craig Jennings said. “That’s just short-term, to see if we can get that opened back up.”

More than 1,000 people signed a petition, asking that the structure be replaced by a bridge. The underpass, owned by CSX, takes pedestrian and car traffic under the railroad tracks and bisects the southern Preston town.

The structure floods during heavy rains, delaying emergency traffic, and the roadway is rough. Local residents have to travel several miles out of their way to get around it, when it floods.

County Administrator Kathy Mace is working to rent a camera that can be put into the storm drains to see where they are blocked.

The lines are believed to go down under a nearby convenience store to the creek, Commissioner Don Smith said. There’s a lot of room for problems, Commissioner Dave Price said.

Commissioners met two weeks ago with CSX, the State Division of Highways (DOH), a representative of Congressman David McKinley and Tunnelton officials.

Long-term, the DOH is looking at different routes around the underpass or a bridge over the structure, Jennings said. Smith said CSX is “very receptive” to finding a permanent solution and could bring money to the table.

“So they’re looking at those different avenues and the costs,” Jennings said.

A conference call is planned later this month. A meeting is set for 10 a.m. Aug. 28 at the Tunnelton Fire Hall. At that meeting, the DOH will present options, Smith said.

“They haven’t figured it out yet. They have to figure out what’s the best solution and the best cost-effective solution and the easiest solution and everything,” Smith said.

Also Monday, commissioners:

heard State Auditor JB McCuskey’s proposal to include Preston County on the state’s real-time accounting of expenditures and receipts, Monongalia County will be the first in the state to go live with the new option.

McCuskey demonstrated how anyone can now look at how the state spends its money and said he hopes to add counties, boards of education and towns to the site. Jennings, Price and Smith said they would like to participate and asked Mace to put the matter on an upcoming agenda, so they can vote on it.

McCuskey said counties are being asked to pay $3,000 the first year and $1,500 each subsequent year, but that can be waived. Counties who participate may also save 25-30 percent on annual audits, the auditor said, because the information will be available without coming to the county.

The program interfaces with county software, and the state auditor will provide technical support.

accepted PC Renewal’s bid of $14,500 to take items brought to the Aug. 18 electronic recycling event. Items will be accepted 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Craig Civic Center.

noted someone is still needed to serve on the Public Defender Corporation board. Anyone interested should call the commission office at 304-329-1805.

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