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Wood County Commissioners approve W.Va. 2 expansion plan

By PAMELA BRUST

The Parkersburg News And Sentinel

PARKERSBURG – A resolution in support of widening West Virginia 2 was approved Monday by the Wood County Commission.

“The primary goal is to have a four-lane all the way to Wheeling and the Wood County Commission is 100 percent behind that,” commission President Steve Gainer said.

The commissioners unanimously voted to endorse the resolution calling for the enlargement of W.Va. 2 from two lanes to four lanes. The resolution notes the upgrade of W.Va. 2 is under construction, “in large part” Interstate 68 is complete to Morgantown with expectations of it reaching the Ohio River, and noting a great part of the upgrade to W.Va. 2 is “shovel ready.”

According to the resolution, a completed Interstate 68 would
provide direct access to the port of Baltimore and “an important
function to the Homeland Security Department” as an emergency route from the nation’s capital and surrounding metropolitan areas in case of national emergency.

The resolution says concentration of manufacturing in West Virginia is along the Ohio River necessitating the four lane highway.

“The major development in West Virginia is found in the Marcellus region and the development of an ethane cracker in Parkersburg will bring billions of dollars in economic development and the development of a natural gas power plant in Moundsville will bring billions of dollars in economic development, and the development of other mid-stream and down- stream products of natural gas in all of the counties along the Ohio River Valley’s abundant natural gas liquids Marcellus regions will develop,” according to the resolution.

Charles Clements, with the Route 2/I-68 Authority, said the organization has taken an active role in promoting the expansion.

“The widening of this highway is a critical tool in the long-term success of our regional businesses, industries and tourism destinations,” Clements said in a letter to commissioners.

“We know that as a viable member of the Ohio Valley community along Route 2 that you understand the tremendous need of a four-lane highway in this region,” Clements said.

Clements asked the commission to adopt the resolution, noting all the other county commissioners, city councils, economic development agencies, chambers of commerce and community leaders throughout the Ohio Valley region were being asked to adopt a similar resolution as well.

The West Virginia Legislature created the West Virginia Route 2/I-68 Authority in 1997. The authority is comprised of two representatives from each of the following counties: Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Tyler, Pleasants, Wood, Monongalia and Marion.

The authority has two mandates, to focus on widening West Virginia 2 from Parkersburg to Chester to a four-lane highway and to extend I-68 from westward to the Ohio Valley.

The objective of the authority is to promote and advance the construction of a modern high highway through the above counties for planning and assisting in establishing economic and community development along the specified areas.

Wood County commissioners announced a vacancy on the Route 2/I-68 Authority board, which is their appointment. Anyone interested in serving can contact the commission or county administrator’s office at 304-424-1984.

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