Upshur County DOH Supervisor Benjamin Claypool, at right, and David Oldaker, maintenance assistant, at Thursday's Jan. 23 commission meeting.

W.Va. Division of Highways: Norvell Drive drainage only current DOH project underway in Upshur

BUCKHANNON – Representatives from the West Virginia Division of Highways delivered an update Thursday to Upshur County Commissioners county roadways.

WV DOH Upshur County Supervisor Benjamin Claypool and David Oldaker, maintenance assistant for District 7, attended the Jan. 23 Upshur County Commission meeting to answer any questions commissioners may have about current projects in Upshur County.

Upshur County Administrator asked Carrie Wallace Claypool and Oldaker if their website is the most effective method of reporting an issue on a road.

Claypool recommended calling his office phone line directly.

“I wouldn’t say that’s (the website) preferred,” Claypool said. “It’s actually the long way around, because the website will either go to what they call the SWAT program in Charleston at the governor’s office, or will go to our district office, so it goes there first and they immediately send it to me. If it comes directly to me, it saves about a day or day-and-a-half.”

The WVDOH–Upshur County Headquarters’ phone number is 304-473-4225, and Claypool’s direct line is 304-473-4223. Claypool said the only major project they have going on in Upshur County currently is a drainage issue on Norvell Drive.

“To put drainage in there, there is a lot of steps to go through,” Claypool said. “The Rights-of-Way Department has to coordinate with the county because it is county property though FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). There has to be surveys done to establish right-of-way, there has to be blueprints drawn by our construction department, and then it all has to be brought back here to be approved by county and FEMA.”

He said the project has been in motion for three or four months and it just takes time to go through the department, which is overseeing or completing projects in five other counties; DOH District 7 is comprised of Barbour, Braxton, Gilmer, Lewis, Upshur and Webster counties. Claypool explained District 7 takes care of 750 miles of road in Upshur County, with 376 roads making up that mileage.

“You take that amount of mileage and you divide it by my 32 boots-on-the-ground employees and figure out how many road miles each employee would have to work and keep that done,” Claypool said. “In the past couple years, we’ve sat down as a management team in Upshur County and have come up with a very extensive maintenance plan that I believe will be successful.”

Oldaker, maintenance assistant, said they keep a list of projects on top of their core maintenance plans – which include mowing, pothole patching, ditching and snow and ice removal.

“Oftentimes, we get concerns from citizens and we have to handle those concerns as well, but if that concern falls down on our list of priorities, we try to stick to our plan,” Oldaker said. “That’s something that we’re also trying to convey to everyone. We do have a plan, and we will get to your road, but we try to stick to the plan.”

In related news, District 7 engineer Brian Cooper in early January notified the City of Buckhannon that a requested traffic study along U.S. Route 33 East adjacent to the Childers Run Road and Kesling Mill Road intersections was underway.

In a Jan. 7 email to city Public Works Director Jerry Arnold, Cooper said he doesn’t anticipate the study to be completed until February 2020. The traffic study is being undertaken at the city’s request following a string of several fatal or near-fatal wrecks at those problematic.

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