Government, Latest News, Preston County

DOH hopes design helps fix problems at Tunnelton underpass

TUNNELTON — A possible solution to flooding and other problems at the Tunnelton underpass could soon be addressed, according to Brent Walker, director of communications for the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

The State Division of Highways (DOH), “has been working with our design consultant on a proposed resolution for the flooding problems associated with the Tunnelton overpass,” Walker said.

“A draft set of plans have been developed and shared with CSX. Shortly after the first of the year a meeting with the DOH and CSX will be scheduled to see how best to work together and proceed forward,” Walker wrote in an email.

In an email last week, CSX said, “We are working with WVDOH to schedule a meeting, however, a date has not been confirmed. We do not know what will be proposed at this time.”

The underpass takes vehicles under CSX tracks, through a short tunnel from W.Va. 26 to the other side of Tunnelton.

During heavy rains it floods. It also causes flooding on W.Va. 26. Larger vehicles, including fire trucks and ambulances, have to go around, delaying them by as much as 15 minutes.

When the fire trucks come out onto Bonafield Street, there is a steep lip at the edge of the road, and the road can twist the trucks’ frames, firefighters have said. The exit is also on a curve.

At an earlier meeting, Tunnelton Volunteer Fire Department President Brian Moreland said the department received 13 emergency calls last year about the underpass, including two for water rescue. School bus drivers have also complained.

During a meeting in 2018, former DOH District 4 Engineer Donny Williams said the brick road going into the underpass on one side belongs to the town. He said W.Va 26 on the other side is the property of the state, and the right-of-way under the railroad is CSX’s responsibility due to a 1912 agreement.

Tunnelton Mayor Brian Harris did not respond in time for this article.