MORGANTOWN — It appears as if the development of a new overpass has hit an impasse, at least temporarily.
In a letter to Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Director Bill Austin and MMPO Policy Board Chairman Tom Bloom, West Virginia Secretary of Transportation Byrd White says a project to reconfigure I-79 Exit 155 is not ready to proceed and the delays are not coming from the state’s end
White’s letter is in response to a correspondence he received following an April 1 special meeting of the MMPO Policy Board. That letter expressed concern that if there wasn’t movement on the project soon, it would miss the final round of Roads to Prosperity funding.
Now, based on the Roads to Prosperity project list posted on the West Virginia Department of Transportation website, the project appears to have been removed.
Byrd points to developer WestRidge, noting in his letter that “due to the lack of advancement on the part of the developer, there is no way to meet any of the imposed deadlines in the schedule.”
Bloom said the county commission is traveling to Charleston this week in an effort to bring the two sides back together.
“We’re going down, the commissioners, to have a face-to-face meeting with the governor’s office and also DOH head officials. I am hopeful the governor will be there. We’re not sure, but we know his people are going to be there,” Bloom said. “We’re going to discuss the future of Exit 155. The future of Harmony Grove and basically how we get our projects moving in Mon County.”
As early as 2019, the DOH said a reconfiguring of Exit 155 would likely start sometime in 2021. In May that year, the DOH estimated the project at $66 million and said the original plan would be to turn the existing infrastructure into a divergent diamond interchange with a flyover heading west.
Now construction estimates for the project are closer to $80 million according to information included in Byrd’s letter, and the project appears to be stalled.
“That appears to be the situation right now,” Bloom said. “There are clearly some details that we need to work through.”