STEUBENVILLE - Plans to alter traffic patterns near the Veterans Memorial Bridge and a need to address recurring rock slides were among issues discussed Wednesday by the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission.
Plans have been made to replace the short left turn lane from Ohio Route 7 at the intersection of University Boulevard with two lanes extending from an area just north of Garfield Elementary School and through the Brettell property at the southeast corner of the intersection.
Instead of yielding, as drivers entering the bridge from the boulevard's right lane do now, they would proceed or stop at a traffic signal timed to coincide with the one for drivers turning onto the bridge from University Boulevard's eastbound lane.
The changes were suggested to ease the flow of traffic onto the bridge and reduce collisions at the busy intersection.
The project also involves the extension of Labelle Avenue, the access road for the Steubenville Marina, so it will run parallel to Route 7 and to the intersection where the new turn lanes begin.
The extension was suggested because it's not unusual for vehicles entering the marina road to be backed into Route 7 while waiting for a train to pass.
Roxanne Kane, district planning administrator for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said an environmental study for the project has been reviewed and W.E. Stillson of Columbus has been hired to provide engineering designs.
Once they are completed, officials will pursue whatever right of way acquisitions are needed and it's hoped construction can begin in 2015 or 2016, Kane said.
ODOT has committed $7.5 million for the estimated $9.1 million project, and BHJ has agreed to pursue additional funds.
In other business, Wellsburg City Manager Mark Henne asked the commission to continue to urge the West Virginia Department of Transportation to fund measures to prevent recurring rock slides along state Route 2 north and south of the city.
Slides caused by heavy rain have blocked traffic on the highway on either end and occasionally, on both ends at the same time, while crews worked to remove the fallen rock and dirt.
Henne said he understands funding is a problem but he'd like to see preventive measures taken. He noted ODOT has initiated a number of projects in slide areas.
Kane said in some cases ODOT was able to secure federal funds for emergency situations arising from the slides.
BHJ has reported that since last year ODOT has allocated $66 million for slide projects in Steubenville, Brilliant, Rayland and Wellsville.
Later in the meeting Alanna Slack, WVDOT's liaison to BHJ, reported this year steel piling was installed to address slides along state Route 67 in Brooke County and Route 2 in Hancock County.
The commission also heard from Dan Motley, industrial development manager for Norfolk Southern Corp., who discussed the railroad's role not only in transporting various industrial materials but also in developing intermodal facilities.
He said the company operates about 20,000 miles of railroad in 22 states and the District of Columbia, including 807 in West Virginia; and serves every major container port in the eastern U.S., with 100 to 150 new businesses added to its clientele each year.
Motley added Norfolk Southern offers engineering services to industries interested in building facilities along rails or potential rail sites.
He said in the last 10 years Norfolk Southern has been involved in the location and expansion of more than 1,000 factories, distribution facilities and other businesses along its lines.
BHJ Executive Director John Brown told the commission he heard Motley speak at a recent conference and felt his input could aid local officials in their efforts for economic development.
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