Gateway West sidewalk and lighting enhancement project expected to begin in late May 2020

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Public works director Jerry Arnold, pictured here at a recent city council meeting, says the next phase of the Gateway West project will likely begin in May 2020.

BUCKHANNON – Construction on the north side of the Gateway West Project will most likely begin after the West Virginia Strawberry Festival in May of 2020.

The Gateway West Project is a sidewalk and lighting enhancement project that begins on West Main Street and proceeds west toward the Main Street exit. Its purpose is to make that portion of Buckhannon more pedestrian-friendly.

“The project will begin at the Citizens Bank on West Main Street, and we’re going in a westerly direction towards the Corridor H overpass near the railroad tracks,” city engineer Jay Hollen explained. “It will include 3,380 feet of five-foot ADA-compliant sidewalk as well as 28 historical-themed period light fixtures on the north side.”

The project was initially scheduled for the 2019 construction season, but it’s been delayed until 2020 because the city didn’t receive a notice to proceed from the state until October 2019. City officials had originally anticipated receiving that notice in May 2019.

The project has been broken down into three phases, the north side being phase two of Gateway West and the south side being the third phase. The north side will begin after Strawberry Festival because that is the only phase for which they have been given notice to proceed, which arrived in October.

City Public Works Director Jerry Arnold said they expect the project to take much of the construction season and anticipate it will be completed in September or October of 2020.

“It looks like we’ll get started in sometime late May,” Arnold said. “There’s some projects in this budget year that have to be wrapped up prior to focusing solely on that project, but once we start on that project, we will solely be focused on that until completion,” Arnold said.

He said traffic and concrete scheduling are two factors that determine how long this phase of Gateway West will take.

“It’s probably going take the entire construction season, or close to it,” Arnold said. “The big issue is going to be traffic. That plays a major role in how productive we are and then in doing so, we have to abide by certain conditions set forth in our permits from the DOH (Division of Highways), which is the traffic and pedestrian safety in those work zones,” Arnold said.

Hollen said the estimated cost of the north side of the Gateway West Project is $412,217.30 with funding split 80/20, with 80 percent coming from Federal Highways and the West Virginia DOH and the remaining 20 percent coming from the city.

“I’ve always seen the Liggett Addition residential area and to me, they have no safe path of travel, being non-vehicle or either a bike or walking to get from the Liggett Addition community to downtown Buckhannon,” Hollen said. “When they do walk along the Old Weston road, it’s at street levels and cars are five to eight feet away from them. This will give them at least a raised sidewalk and give the driver something to pay attention to, but I see it as a connector to get the Liggett Addition community on a safe travel path to the downtown area.”