Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 2008 Minutes, Hampshire County Meeting

Recorded Attendees: Gary Howell – Mineral County, Wayne Spiggle-Mineral County Commission, Arvin Harsh – Preston County, Cate Johnson – Congressman Mollohan’s Office, Ashley Paxson – Congresswoman Capito’s Office, Robert Hott – Hampshire County Commission, Gary Dove – Frederick County Board of Supervisors, Evelyn Baker – Hampshire County, Charles Baker – Hampshire County Planner, Clyde Burdock – Mineral County Planning Commission President, Jerry Copp – VDOT, Betty Spiggle – Mineral County, Alex Bridges – Northern Virginia Daily, Bobbie Carpenter – News Tribune, Bob Fisher – MDSHA, Brian Carr – WVDOH Charleston, Bill Wood – WVDOH – Charleston, Mona Ridder – MCDA.

Introductions: Hampshire County Commissioner Robert Hott opened the meeting. Mineral County Commissioner Wayne Spiggle made the introductions welcoming everyone to the meeting. Pointing out that for the first time representatives from the departments responsible for highways in MD, VA & WV were all present.

Correspondence: Arvin Harsh presented the group with a copy of a letter received in response to our request that the intersection of US 50 and WV 24 in Preston County be upgraded for safety. The letter from Congressman Mollohan’s office included a copy of a letter received to his office from WVDOT head Paul Mattox. The group elected to follow up with a thank you letter.

Brian Carr said when they looked at the statistics for the intersection and stated that it was low for accidents and low for truck traffic which is the primary problem with the intersection. Arvin stated that there had been 3 deaths at the intersection in the last 4 years. Bill Wood stated the normally the department only looks at 3 years of data, but said that WVDOH would coordinate on a local level for more information. The states records showed that westbound sight distance was the primary cause of problems with the intersection.

Wayne received correspondence from West Virginians for Better Transportation, but it was not available at the meeting. It will be posted on the US 50 blog.

Old Business: H.R. 4827 was discussed. Cate Johnson of Congressman Mollohan’s (WV-1) office said the only movement on the bill was the co-sponsoring by Congresswoman Shelley Capito (WV-2). This does give the bill bipartisan support in the house. Gary Howell was asked to explain the bill to attendees not present at previous meetings and did so.

Bill Wood explained the US 50 closure for the past 4 months listed as Taylor County was actually on the Harrison County side of the county line and expected it to be closed for at least another 2 months. He recommended contacting WVDOH District 4 for more up to date information.

The Jersey Mountain stop light project has been put on hold. It was being pushed primarily by former WV House member Jerry Mezzatesta. WVDOH currently does not see a need for a light in that area with current traffic statistics. Carr suggested that the US 50 Association or the Hampshire County Commission request a new study since the current one is now 4 years old and new data may change their findings.

Commissioner Hott stated that pulp wood truck drivers were opposed to a light at that location because of having to stop on the hill. Evelyn Baker pointed out that Hampshire High School was adjacent to the area and could benefit from the added safety of the traffic light. A frontage road was also discussed to collect the traffic before it went to varies entrances and funnel it to one area to make a light more effective. Carr stated while this would be a functional option, it does increase the cost with addition of a new road requiring the purchasing of property and closing existing entrances.

New Business: Gary Howell requested input on the US 50 Brochure that the group plans to publish. Bill Woods suggested that I primary focus on tourism along the route as many people travel it for scenic and historic value. It was suggest putting a history of the route along with a brief history of the US 50 Association. Gary also requested that each county submit a list of historic places along US in their county, but only those places directly on US 50.

Jerry Copp of VDOT presented a very good presentation of how Virginia builds and maintains its roads. By state statute a board distributes funds to the various districts based on perceived need. A portion of each district funds are set for secondary roads, those funds are allocated by a county board made of local citizens who hold public hearings.

Jerry went on to say that VDOT does not have US 50 west of Winchester high on the list for improvement, but that could change if the current conditions change.

Jerry also stated that the district had requested cameras be placed on the VA/WV line on US 50 and US 522 to monitor traffic flow and weather conditions. The cameras would be available via the internet. The US 50 Association stated it would write a letter in support of a camera location on US 50 at the state line.

VDOT thanked both, WVDOH and the US 50 Association, for working with them on a road closure when the rail road track crossings were replaced on US 50. He said that WVDOH did a good job providing detour route signs, and the US 50 Association did a good job disseminating the information to the local press. He also noted that a similar closure will possibly occur in August for the replacement of another crossing near Hayfield, VA

Evelyn Baker spoke briefly about an alternate route for US 50 on behalf of State Senator John Unger. Unger not being present and a meeting with Hampshire County officials forthcoming, Evelyn requested the matter be tabled until all parties had been contacted.

Brian Carr stated that the WVDOH had made just a visual look at the proposed route that follows WV 29 and VA/WV 127 to US 522 and that while it would be easier to build from a construction stand point; it would add 5 miles to the current route. He suggested that the US 50 Association request a preliminary study from the WVDOH on both the new route and the existing route for upgrade to 4-lanes.

Regional Issues: VDOT stated as to Corridor H that Virginia decided, in 1995, not to participate in the Corridor H project. That was 13 years ago, but the current plan for the next 6 years has nothing for Corridor H. No preliminary studies are planned to look for a possible route. If when WV completes its portion and a large amount of traffic is using VA’s 2-lane section of the road, then VA will look to see if a study is warranted to see if a study for a new road should be planned.

Bob Fisher of MDSHA announced that new high intensity warning lights would replace the existing warning light system at the intersection of US 50 and US 219 near Red House, MD. The upgrades would also include new warning signs for the intersection. This project should be complete within the next 4 weeks.

Paving projects along US 50 in Maryland have been delayed do to the rising cost of asphalt and the rising cost of fuel. They will try to complete the projects this year, but they may be delayed until spring.

Gary Dove of the Frederick County Board of Supervisors told the group he was glad he attended the meeting and that it was very informative.

September Meeting:

Taylor County is next on the schedule to host the September 17th meeting at a place to be determined.

Meeting Adjourned at 1:59

Tentative Meeting Schedule

17 September 2008 - Taylor County

19 November 2008 - Mineral County

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