FRAZIERS BOTTOM, W.Va. — A day many thought would never come has officially been scheduled to arrive, with the groundbreaking for the completion of U.S. 35 planned for next week.
On Thursday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office released information about the groundbreaking that will take place at 2 p.m., Oct. 14 at the West Virginia Division of Highways Salt Mill, located at the base of the Buffalo Bridge in Putnam County. Tomblin is scheduled to appear, and the office of U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) also confirmed she will be at the ceremony, with the itinerary still being finalized on Thursday. State officials, legislators and county officials from both Mason and Putnam counties will likely be at the ceremony as well.
Tomblin’s office said the location in Fraziers Bottom was chosen due to ample parking at the site and its location near where some of the road work will take place.
In May, the Point Pleasant Register reported that a firm from Kentucky had submitted the lowest bid to design, build and finance the remaining 14.6 miles of U.S. 35.
In June, WVDOH, awarded the low bid to Bizzack Construction LLC of Lexington, Ky., in the amount of $174.45 million for the construction of a four-lane highway from W.Va. 869 in Putnam County to CR 40 in Mason County.
The anticipated completion of this grade and drain project is scheduled for the end of October 2018. There will be a final paving contract awarded following its completion and the road is expected to be open to traffic in the fall of 2019.
In January, Tomblin mentioned the completion of U.S. 35 in his State of the State address, signaling to many that the long-awaited project would finally be completed without the use of tolls.
“This is another day and another step closer to finishing Route 35 which we hope will be a great asset to Mason County when completed,” Mason County Commission President Rick Handley said. “First of all, it will be safer for all those who travel, some daily, on this road and, of course, it opens up economic opportunity for us.”
“I am extremely happy to hear that the official groundbreaking for the completion of Route 35 is finally taking place,” Del. Jim Butler (R-14th) said. “This has been a long-awaited day for the people who live along the two-lane road, as well as the people who travel this route. I was glad to be able to help pass legislation to help with the completion; the credit, however, goes to the hard-working people in West Virginia who pay for and deserve a safe road. Like many of my neighbors say, ‘I will believe it when I’m driving on it.’”
“It’s what I basically ran on and got elected saying I would do everything I could to see Route 35 was done and not a toll road and it looks like that’s coming together for Mason County,” Del. Scott Cadle (R-13th) said. “I think this will open Mason County up for industry, provide easier access to property and provide a safer route. We’ve lost a lot of lives. It’s a shame it couldn’t have happened 50 years ago.”
The itinerary for Wednesday was still being finalized and is subject to change. Any changes will be published by Ohio Valley Publishing, both in print and online.
Reach Beth Sergent at [email protected] or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.