MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Recent investments in I-79 from Harrison County to the Pennsylvania state line have totaled more than $180 million.
State highway officials say the projects have added lanes to handle increased commerce and traffic and rehabilitated bridges that are more than 50-years-old.
The section of interstate in Marion County from the South Fairmont to the Pleasant Valley exits is being widened to three lanes in each direction at a cost of $72.5 million by Pennsylvania-based Swank Construction.
The widening project is slated for completion in October 2024.
In December, the state awarded $62.4 million to St. Albans-based Triton Construction for the renovation of all major bridges on I-79 from Clarksburg to the Pennsylvania state line. The contract is a mix of widening, rehabilitation, and substructure work and has a completion date of May 27, 2027.
Triton Construction was this month awarded another contract valued at $45.5 million to replace three pairs of narrow bridges along a 40-mile stretch of I-79 from Lost Creek to I-68 near Morgantown. The bridges identified for replacement are at mile marker 136, the Little Creek bridges near mile marker 140, and the Wades Run bridges at mile marker 160.
In the future, there will be the proposed Harmony Grove interchange off I-79 in Monongalia County, serving the Morgantown Industrial Park. In the spring of 2022, the project was moved to the Tier 1 priority list, which means it will be completed within the next 8 to 10 years.
The interchange will be a vital part of Mountaintop Beverage. Mountaintop Beverage is ramping up operations to operate as many as 100 semi-trucks daily to and from the Morgantown Industrial Park.
Monongalia County Commission president Tom Bloom said the interchange is important to Mountaintop Beverage but more importantly vital to the continued growth at the Morgantown Industrial Park.
“Harmony Grove needs to be moving forward, and I believe that it is but we want to make sure we give it the attention so it gets through the federal guidelines as soon as possible,” Bloom said.
The project recently received a $2 million in federal grant funding from the offices of U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.
“I know with that huge Mountaintop Beverage investment, which is fantastic, there are a lot of trucks going in and through Morgantown, which is obviously a safety issue. We’re working on that as fast as we can, and it has my full and enthusiastic support,” she said.
Capito toured the 475,000-square-foot facility and industrial park last year with West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt, who echoed the importance of access.
“I have raised that question with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and made sure he knows the Harmony Grove interchange is high on my interest list, and we’ve had letters to that effect as well,” Capito said.
Also on the radar in Monongalia County is a $68 million plan to reconfigure I-79 exit 155. The end project would increase access to Star City, Granville,and the West Virginia University campus.
“Those are the two areas that are key for economic development,” Bloom said. “Not only for North Central, but for the state of West Virginia.”