A group of Barbour County citizens has started a grass roots campaign to get the state Division of Highways to look into improving sections of U.S. Route 250 in Randolph, Barbour and Taylor counties and a section of W.Va. 57 in Barbour and Harrison counties.
The Barbour County Roads Action Committee, chaired by Robert L. "Buck" True, met with DOH Commissioner Sam Beverage in September to discuss the possibility of upgrading the roads to four-lane highways that would connect Corridor H in Randolph County to Interstate 79 in Harrison County.
"This is something that could tremendously boost economic development in Barbour County," True said. "We've got to do something. We've got a new hospital and all the infrastructure is up to date. What we've got to do is make the roads better to attract new businesses to Barbour County and the Philippi area."
Norm Roush, deputy commissioner of the division, said Wednesday that a study of the area could begin very soon.
"The planning and research division will be starting a preliminary study very shortly to look at alternative methods of fixing up the roads," Roush said. "The study will probably run the whole range from looking at building a new road to fixing specific sections to upgrading to a four-lane. They'll be looking at things like estimated costs and any estimated problems and benefits."
True said the committee is seeking improvements to U.S. 250 from Corridor H in Randolph County to the intersection of W.Va. 38 in Barbour County and from Philippi to U.S. Route 50 at Pruntytown. They are also looking at improvements to W.Va. 57 from Overfield in Barbour County to the intersection of I-79 at Quiet Dell.
Philippi City Manager Alana Maddox, who also attended the September meeting, said improving U.S. 250 would be beneficial to the area.
"I think it would be a real boon to Philippi and Barbour County," she said. "It would make us more accessible to businesses and tourism. We just met with some tourism folks and basically, anything that would help us draw people to Philippi would be a plus."
Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at email@example.com