Inwood Bypass Nears Completion; Capito Says It Answers Community Call

MARTINSBURG — The saying “all good things come to those who wait” may apply to the Inwood Bypass roadway construction project designed to ease traffic congestion in the area where U.S.11 meets W.Va. 51. 

With an estimated cost of $12.4 million, Phase One is widening the existing route for W.Va 51 from three lanes to five between U.S. 11 and the railroad crossing, and installing three roundabouts aimed at improving traffic flow. 

The search for an Inwood traffic remedy started years back when U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., then in the U.S. House of Representatives, listened to an ever-growing chorus of concerned residents calling for a fix to the traffic clog here. 

“It really was the traffic that got us started and people complaining to our office about the congestion and when school got out, how long it would take and then accidents,” said Capito, who stopped by the construction site on Friday. 

“We were able to get involved when I was in the House of Representatives to truly to get some money to get it started.” 

The concern back then was that the project would take too long to get off the ground. 

“The worry was, if you wait to long, too much in the area was going to be built up and you were never were going to get it done,” Capito said. 

All three roundabouts will be open by Nov. 16, said Division of Highways Project Supervisor Adam Price. After that, workers will begin widening approximately a half mile of Middleway Pike. 

DOH District 5 engineer Lee Thorne said the project should ease traffic congestion around the interchange area. 

“It’s going to flow well,” Thorne said. “From the little bit that we have open now, I can see that traffic moving.” 

Thorne said the engineering theory behind roundabouts is to help reduce the number of “possible traffic conflicts.” 

“With a roundabout,you don’t have the opportunity for t-bones (car collisions where one car broadsides another),” Thorne said. “You might get sideswipes, but you don’t have cars crossing other lanes — they sort of merge in and keep flowing.” 

Based on future road construction plans, the area may not be done adding more roundabouts, with three more proposed to be installed west toward Interstate 81, Price said. 

Based on daily auto traffic volume, DOH officials said roundabouts were an absolute necessity.

“It is unbelievable the traffic down here,” Price said.

By:  Jim McConville
Source: The Martinsburg Journal