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Mileground businesses hopeful DOH will consider working at night

MORGANTOWN — “I really do not need this right now.”

Kathy Bryan, who operates Cool Kids Consignment, at 1706 Mileground Road, said utility work being done along the Mileground is going a long way toward finishing what COVID-19 started.

“The pandemic had already impacted business before, but now I’m seeing way less traffic than what I’m used to in here, even since the pandemic,” Bryan said. “People just call now and ask if I have specific items and they’ll say, ‘I’m not coming up there with it being such a mess.’ ”

The Dominion Post reached out to the DOH to ask if it would consider working at night in an effort to reduce the lines of traffic that back up during the day, making access to Mileground businesses difficult.

“That would be a great idea, wouldn’t it? I doubt it will happen,” Mileground Pre-Owned Motors owner Ed George said. “I’ve been here 18 years on the Mileground and at night, it’s pretty empty. It just seems like it would be a more logical time to work. It seems like it would be much safer for the crew and less impactful on the public and the businesses up here.”

Jennifer Dooley, public relations director for the the West Virginia Department of Transportation said the sewer line relocation underway cannot be done at night, per terms of the contract, “due to the close proximity of residences, one block away.”

George said the utility work is just a precursor to a much larger project to widen the Mileground from three to five lanes — including a center turn lane — and add a 5-foot sidewalk along one side.

Traffic on the Mileground backed up Tuesday for a widening project.

That project was programmed in 2012 and is the final part of a three-phase overhaul that began with the roundabout on one end and the overhaul of the intersection at U.S. 119 (Point Marion Road) and CR 857 (Cheat Road) on the other.

Last word from the DOH was that this final leg would cost $10 million and conclude in fall of 2023. It has been delayed significantly due to right-of-way acquisition issues.

Both Bryan and George said they hope the DOH will consider doing any future work after business hours.

“This is making life difficult. It’s making test drives difficult and it definitely has had an impact on the business we’re seeing,” George said.

Bryan said she’s concerned whether her store will survive if construction keeps the Mileground locked up during business hours for the next year or more.

“It was already crazy up here. The Mileground is crazy since the roundabout and this is just making it so much worse,” she said. “I just pray I can make it through.”

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