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Taylor residents have conflicting views on Rt. 50 plans

by James Fisher

REGIONAL WRITER

GRAFTON -- About 100 Taylor County residents attended a meeting Monday night at Taylor County Middle School to discuss a proposal by the state Division of Highways to upgrade U.S. Route 50 to four lanes.

The meeting was organized by two residents, George Zorik and John Whitescarver, and was not attended by any state officials.

"We've been concerned because there have not been any public hearings on this," Whitescarver said. "What we've had was the state up here with their maps. My personal concerns grew as the number of lines on those maps grew on my property."

Whitescarver, as well as the majority of the 15 residents who spoke Monday, say they're in favor of upgrading the road -- straightening curves, adding passing lanes in certain spots and widening the shoulders -- but not making the road four lanes.

"I don't think Grafton needs a four-lane road to Harrison County," Zorik said. "Currently, they're building a road in the Maple Lake area to I-79 and the FBI complex. I keep hearing that this is for the trucks, but the truckers I've talked to say they don't have any problems getting to Grafton. The problems are after they get in Grafton, getting up and down those alleys."

At least one resident, John Taylor, believes the question of expansion is moot because he says the state has proven they often have more plans than money.

"This road will never be built. It's a farce," he said. "It's a campaign project to convince you that someone is doing something good for Taylor County."

Whitescarver said the evening's comments had been recorded and would be forwarded to state Division of Highways officials in Charleston.

The division's proposal includes several alternatives for the road. One of the alternatives would be a straight upgrade of the existing U.S. Route 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.

John Morrison, project manager for the division, said they hope to have a preferred alignment by next year. Costs range from $150 million to $205 million.

Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com.

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