West Virginia Parkways Authority discusses updates to Turnpike

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59 News Online Update: Saturday, November 16

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — West Virginia leaders are working hard to make our roadways safer and more efficient. The West Virginia Parkways Authority discussed different changes and updates in a board meeting Thursday, November 7.

One change is an update to the toll booth system. With the increase of tolls, lines are getting longer at the booths. Right now, they have a NoPay system that takes a lot of time for both the driver and the toll booth worker.

Greg Barr is the General Manager of the West Virginia Parkways Authority. He said the Parkways Authority is looking to consult experts on alternative ways to charge for tolls.

“We’re going to look into automating that, using cameras and syncing the cameras with the transaction and mailing a bill later and deal with it that way. So that’s what we’re trying to get refined by the toll consultants,” Barr said.

These changes will be discussed in December and are expected to be announced next spring.

Construction for the Beckley Widening Project almost hit a road block, but the West Virginia Parkways Authority had a meeting Thursday to change that. The Division of Highways is the organization completing the project; however, it was not able to enter into a contract with CSX in a timely manner. This would prevent construction from continuing on any bridge that was over a railroad, which CSX has control over. Barr said the Parkways Authority entered a contract with CSX to speed up the project and avoid any delays.

“We had the opportunity to get a contract with CSX sooner than DOH could have gotten it, so we got the contract drawn up and we’ve been reimbursing them to the tune of about $54,000, so far,” Barr said.

The board approved the Parkways Authority to move forward with the reimbursements Thursday.

Barr also said the Beckley Widening Project is expected to finish on time in 2022. There may be changes to some design elements, but they will not affect the proposed finish date. Barr said the Parkways Authority is looking into these changes to see if they are beneficial.

“One of the benefits we will see here soon are the Harper Road exit ramps have been narrow, to get on and off the interstate. Those are going to go back to almost 90 percent normal in the next three weeks,” Barr said.

All of these efforts will hopefully make our highways safer and more efficient.

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