GRAFTON -- Numerous residents attended a public informational meeting Tuesday at Taylor County Middle School to let the state Division of Highways know what they think about a plan to upgrade U.S. Route 50 to four lanes -- and the feedback was very positive.
Aside from a few who expressed concerns because part of the upgrade could mean they would lose their homes, most residents seem to agree that the upgraded highway is necessary for continued economic growth in Grafton and all of Taylor County.
"This will definitely be good for the county and it's something that we've needed for a while," said George Smithson. "If you look at all the growth in Bridgeport and Clarksburg, that could have been us if (U.S.) 50 had been four lanes all the way like it was supposed to be originally."
John Morrison, manager of the project for the DOH, said the purpose of Tuesday's meeting was to get input from residents about which of the three proposed alternatives would best serve the county.
One of the alternatives basically would be a straight upgrade of the existing U.S. 50 to four lanes. Other proposals would call for the construction of new roads to the north and south of the current highway. Another proposal would involve both new construction and an upgrade of the existing road, he said.
"We want to use this to start the environmental studies and hopefully by the fall of 2001 we will have a preferred alignment," Morrison said. "One of the big things we need to do is investigate the histories of any building that could be affected and also we'll be looking at the environmental impact."
The three alternatives range in length from 12.47 miles to 12.77 miles and could affect from 66 to 123 homes and several businesses. Capital costs are expected to range from $150 million to $205 million.
Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.