Construction of a four-lane Meadowbrook Road will begin by early fall, according to the state Department of Highways.
"Federal funds are authorized," said Norman Roush, deputy highway commissioner. "We'll be ready to go whenever we get the Corps of Engineers permit. That could be one or two months."
The road will ultimately provide a link between Interstate 79 and the Shinnston area along state Route 19.
Initial construction will include a 1.8-mile stretch between the back entrance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Meadowbrook Mall area. The department has budgeted about $14 million for the first phase, which will take about two years to complete.
The entire road is projected to take about six years if the flow of federal funds is consistent, Roush said.
Reaction has been mixed.
Some residents whose homes were in the path of the new route actively protested.
State Del. Barbara Warner, D-Harrison, said the road's path was adjusted to avoid some residences as a result. Chair of the House Transportation Committee, Warner was a major road proponent.
She believes development and safety issues outweigh the loss of homes.
"There have been so many lives lost on that road," Warner said Tuesday, noting truck traffic has increased.
Roush said three homes and two businesses were purchased for the first phase of construction.
"People have already moved or are in the process of moving," he said.
Some area business owners say the straighter, wider road will be a blessing, however.
"In the short term, it may block traffic and be a hassle, but in the long term it's going to be great for us," said Marcello Lalama, Meadowbrook Mall property manager.
"Surprisingly, we do get a lot of traffic from that direction, especially with the FBI there."
Jeff Silka, Shinnston city manager, said the road may provide more than easier interstate access for that remote Harrison County community.
"Any transportation change that filters traffic closer to Shinnston ... will have a positive economic impact on the city," Silka said.
Regional editor Nora Edinger can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.