Several weeks ago, work on a project rerouting a portion of West Virginia 14 in Mineral Wells came to a sudden and mysterious halt. When completed, the $9.4 million project will eliminate a dangerously outdated bridge and a nearly 180-degree turn by rerouting the road across a ravine and back onto W.Va. 14 at the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church at Turkey Foot Road.
This rerouting necessitated the construction of a bridge across the ravine. This was taking place at the time work was halted. District 3 Division of Highway Construction Engineer Mike Foley would not give any reason for the halt, only that the project had encountered "several issues," which made it impossible to continue at this time. He also did not have any idea when construction would be restarted but did indicate the projected completion date in the late fall would not be met. He also did not know how much this delay would add to the project's cost.
While there has been speculation as to the cause of the delay, since the DOH has refused to comment, we have no idea as to the real reason. We do know it has been serious enough to delay work in the mildest winter we have had in several years.
We also know safety comes first-and if a safety issue is the cause of the delay, the DOH needs to ensure it is resolved to the highest safety specifications, whether through mediation or through the court.
Anyone who travels this road knows W.Va. 14 is a bottleneck at this location. When completed, the rerouting will help move traffic in a smoother, safer fashion.
The DOH should push for a resolution on these "issues" so this project can safely continue. And the taxpayers-already on the hook for more than $9 million-should not have to pay more for these "issues" to be resolved.