by Darlene J. Taylor
The Exponent Telegram
Monday, April 5, 2004
CLARKSBURG – It has been a little over two years since W.Va. 279, commonly known as the Bridgeport Bypass opened. Residents and business owners agree that it has been beneficial in a number of ways.
“People seem to be happy about the time it now takes to get to Grafton and Taylor County,” said Marvin Murphy, Division of Highways District 4 engineer.
The 2.76-mile connector between U.S. 50 and Interstate 79 opened on Nov. 21, 2001. It was built with $21.8 million in state bond revenue, costing substantially less than other road projects of the same size, Murphy said.
“Usage is starting to rise. We’ve had some inquiries about letting trucks know it is there for them,” Murphy said.
The road has made access to Rish Equipment Co. in Bridgeport a lot easier, said manager Paul Calvert. Rish sells construction and mining equipment throughout Northern West Virginia.
“I’ve noticed a considerable difference in the flow of traffic. There is a lot more traffic using it,” Calvert said.
“It’s definitely more accessible moving equipment in and out,” Calvert said.
He said he is confident the bypass will mean growth in the area in coming months and years.
“You are going to see a lot of expansion, I would say,” he said.
The bypass also helps reduce traffic congestion on Bridgeport Hill and on the stretch of I-79 between the FBI Center exit and the Anmoore exit.
Taylor County Commissioner Tony Veltri owns businesses in both Bridgeport and Grafton and uses the bypass frequently.
“It certainly makes it a little easier access to get to the interstate, as well as for folks wanting to come to Grafton, without going through Bridgeport,” Veltri said.
Veltri said it would be hard to say whether the bypass has helped the economy, but he hopes that will be the case.
“I use it because it is a lot faster to get from AFG Industries to the other end of Bridgeport,” said Wilsonburg’s Roger Bunnell. “I use it mostly on day shift due to traffic congestion and red lights in Bridgeport.”
Bunnell said many of the AFG workers use the bypass to avoid traffic and stoplights.
Murphy said the Division of Highways has made some minor changes on the bypass since it opened.
“We had some concerns on the different speed limits. We adjusted it to a consistent speed all the way through,” Murphy said.