BUCKHANNON – At last.
At last, the skies are blue – and clear enough to see an end to the Route 20 turning lane project in front of McDonald’s.
County and city residents might be getting what they most want for Christmas: an end to the traffic delays caused by the construction of the third turning lane onto College Avenue, a West Virginia Division of Highways official said Tuesday.
DOH District 7 supervisor Keith Loar said he expects paving on the $1.3 million project to wrap up by Wednesday evening, provided there’s no inclement weather.
“Right now, we’re working on widening the base layer of the asphalt,” Loar told My Buckhannon Tuesday morning. “We started that first layer yesterday, and we’re hoping to finish it up today (Tuesday, Dec. 11).”
Then, the DOH’s contractor, A.L.L. Construction of Mt. Storm, will add a second layer before applying the final ‘wearing course,’ or top coat of the asphalt, Loar said.
“I’m hoping to have all the paving completed by Wednesday evening,” he said. “That’s the plan.”
Pounding out the paving doesn’t mean crews will be completely done with work in the area, however, Loar said.
“They’ll still have to put down the pavement markings, the lines and arrows, and finish up the (traffic signal) lights,” he said.
Adjusting the LED stop light involves activating the radar, which will track the flow of traffic, and fine-tuning the timer on the lights, he added.
Once paving is complete, traffic won’t be limited to traveling through the intersection in only one lane every day; however, crews will still be in the area occasionally to put finishing touches on the undertaking, which began in February of this year.
“There’s mulching and seeding to do, putting the fencing back up at the school (Buckhannon Academy Elementary School), so occasionally, one lane will be blocked, but it won’t be every day like it has been,” Loar said. “We’re eager to get out of everyone’s way.”
The DOH awarded the contract to the low bidder, A.L.L., in 2017. Work on the project dragged on past its April 20, 2018 deadline due to unruly weather and several adjustments that had to be made to the project plan after utilities were discovered in unexpected places.
City engineer Jay Hollen said he was happy to hear paving should be finished within the next couple days. Hollen said when complete, the turning lane will allow vehicles southbound on Route 20 to turn left onto College Avenue without interrupting the flow of traffic.
“It’s going to keep traffic in the north and southbound direction flowing without stopping the southbound traffic when someone needs to turn onto College,” Hollen told My Buckhannon Tuesday.
He noted a 2015 traffic study, which shows that an average of 15,536 cars pass through the intersection a day.