The Exponent Telegram
Sunday, December 4, 2005
By Gary A. Harki – STAFF WRITER
BRIDGEPORT – W.Va. 279, the road that connects U.S. 50 near Bridgeport with Interstate 79, is not as busy as it could be.
But that appears likely to change.
The road will provide access to Charles Pointe and to United Hospital Center when its move is complete. That is expected to happen in November 2009, UHC President Bruce Carter has said.
"Time will prove whether building the road was right or wrong. But I would say at this point it is a good example of planning and development for future development," said Bridgeport Police Chief Jack Clayton.
All of W.Va. 279 from U.S. 50 to I-79 is part of Bridgeport and patrolled by Bridgeport Police, Clayton said.
In 2002, just after the $30 million, 2.8-mile highway opened, about 3,700 vehicles a day traveled over the road, said Greg Phillips, District 4 manager.
Traffic is likely to have increased 10 percent since that time, he said.’
"A lot of people heading to Grafton and Taylor County use 279," said Don Williams, District 4 construction engineer. "It does save quite a bit of time."
The bypass allows vehicles to avoid traffic by going around downtown Bridgeport, he said.’
"It has gradually become more heavily traveled," Clayton said. "For quite a while, people were not accustomed to using it. I think it has found its way on maps and things. There has been a steady increase in the volume of traffic."
The peak traffic for the road in 2005 is 300 vehicles per hour, Phillips said. A traffic study done by UHC puts that peak traffic after the hospital is built at 409 vehicles per hour, he said.
After the new hospital is built it is expected about 25 percent of UHC’s traffic would use W.Va. 279 from U.S. 50 to the hospital, Phillips said.
"Any time you are talking about a quarter of the traffic coming from one direction, that is quite a bit of traffic," he said.
W.Va. 279 was designed to hold more traffic than it currently handles, he said.
There have been discussions about possibly putting a stop light at the road’s ramp with
I-79 but that would be decided based upon how much traffic travels the road in the future, Phillips said.
Speed limits may change on W.Va. 279, he said.
W.Va. 279 also will cut right through Charles Pointe, which will add more traffic to the highway, Clayton said. It has not been the site of many accidents or other problems, but those are likely to increase as traffic increases, he said.
That will require more of the Bridgeport Police Department’s attention and therefore more staff for the police in the future, he said.
"As developments tend to expand, roads have to catch up," Clayton said. "This might be an example where a road system was well thought out and precedes development."