W.Va. 9 to open to little fanfare

CHARLES TOWN — The final leg of W.Va. 9 from Charles Town to the Virginia state line opens today without celebration, said Brent Walker, director of communications for the Department of Transportation.

“We had hoped to celebrate a few weeks ago but it wasn’t ready,” Walker said. “It is a project certainly worth fanfare.”

Drivers today will start using the latest expansion of W.Va. 9, including a new bridge over the Shenandoah River.

The four-lane construction project between U.S. 340 and Virginia, about 4 miles, cost $113 million.

Walker said it wasn’t possible to get everything into place for a big celebration this week, and DOT Secretary Paul Mattox said the opening could no longer be put off.

The opening closes out three final construction contracts: the Charles Town bypass to the Shenandoah River Bridge, at 3.09 miles and at a cost of $14.9; the Shenandoah River Bridge 0.34 mile upgrade to four lanes and construction of the bridge at a cost of $47 million; and the final Shenandoah River Bridge to the Virginia state line segment, a half-mile project that cost $21.1 million.

The entire W.Va. 9 project began with a study report in 1978 that ranked it as a priority road that was needed in the area.

The highways office reported that during a 20-year period from 1992 to 2012, the average daily traffic was anticipated to increase from 10,500 to 22,100 vehicles a day.

The late U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd began securing funding for the project early in the 1990s.

The Charles Town to Martinsburg section of the highway — about 11 miles between W.Va. 45 and U.S. 340 — opened in the summer of 2010 at a cost $185 million.

The Martinsburg bypass, a five-mile section, is currently being reviewed for environmental impact. The construction costs range from $110 million to $161 million.

Walker said the final design of the road from Berkeley Springs to Martinsburg, a 27-mile section, is now underway.

Although the opening for the newest section is today, Walker said there will be a formal celebration to mark the event.

“We hope to give it the celebrity opening it should have in the next couple weeks,” Walker said.

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