SOUTHSIDE, W.Va. — Construction continues on the completion of US Route 35 through Mason and Putnam Counties, including near the southern end of the project at Southside in Mason County, W.Va.
A work site has been established along Cornstalk Road where construction has been ongoing.
This construction of the 14.6-mile stretch of road is employing 300 people from construction and consulting companies, according to the West Virginia Division of Highways. This Route 35 upgrade will provide a four-lane highway from I-64 at Crooked Creek in Putnam County, W.Va. to the Ohio River at Henderson, W.Va. in Mason County. Currently, the road is only two lanes for 14.6 miles through Mason and Putnam counties.
As previously reported by WVDOH, at $174.4 million, the project is the second-largest awarded contract in the agency’s history and its second public-private partnership. Bizzack Construction Inc., of Lexington, Ky. was awarded the project as the prime contractor last year. Assisting Bizzack are 14 subcontractors, 10 of which operate offices in West Virginia. Six consulting engineering companies, which also operate offices in the state, are assisting the prime contractor, according to WVDOH.
Ground was broken on the project last October near the Buffalo Bridge in Putnam County. Speaking at that ceremony was West Virginia Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox who, at the time, said the completion of US 35 was “decades in the making.” Mattox recalled John Musgrave, now the director of the Mason County Development Authority, inviting him to a meeting with the late Jack Fruth and Charles Lanham, where he had an opportunity to listen to the “merits” of the project and “how important it was to the region and the nation.” At the time, Mattox noted US 35 is 412 miles long and he was “excited to be closer to providing a safe, efficient, continuous four-lane route through Mason and Putnam counties.”
In addition to providing what many believe will be a safer route of travel, completing the 14.6-mile stretch is believed to open doors to economic development in the area.
A few weeks ago, Mattox said in a statement: “The upgrading of US Route 35 has long been a top priority. I commend Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for his leadership and commitment to this project that has allowed the Division of Highways to nearly complete US Route 35 in West Virginia, to keep our construction industry strong, and to keep people employed. I am encouraged that the prime contractor chose to utilize so many West Virginia companies which provide job opportunities for our local workforce.”
The final section is expected to be complete in 2018 and paved in 2019. Upon completion, this national freight corridor will provide for future economic development in the greater Kanawha Valley, Mattox said.
Information for some of this article provided by the West Virginia Division of Highways.
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.