BUFFALO, WV (WOWK) – Construction crews were hard at work underneath the hot sun Thursday installing brand new guardrails along the remaining stretch of U.S. Route 35.
When it’s done, drivers will cross several bridges and see scenic views, and have four lanes to drive on.
Deputy Secretary for the West Virginia Department of Transportation Jimmy Wriston says Route 35 has a long, long history in the state.
Wriston says in the older days the Silver Bridge and Route 35 were known as “the gateway to the South.”
Today, most of Route 35 in West Virginia has been upgraded, except for this last 15-mile stretch in Putnam County where it is still just a two-lane highway with heavy truck traffic near the river bottom.
“We’ve just struggled to get these large projects done in West Virginia and this being the last section, this one really feels good,” said Wriston.
But not everyone shares Wriston’s enthusiasm.
Jim McCausland is the great-grandson of West Virginian Confederate General John McCausland, and the back end of his family’s farm had the right of way for the new highway.
McCausland says he sold it to get the traffic away from his home. He says his dog, Leroy, won’t even go past the corn patch because he wouldn’t survive in the traffic.
“I just don’t understand why they’re not working 24/7 to get this finished because there are accidents every week on this road right now and we might go to the store and then have to sit in five-hour traffic to get back home,” said McCausland.
Wriston says the $225 million project has had its share of challenges, from financial to weather to pandemic-related issues.
“It’s a lot more expensive to build roads and bridges in this terrain, in this topography than Florida,” he said.
DOT officials say pending any unforeseen challenges the new upgraded interstate stretch should be ready by the end of the year.