Roundabout coming to Williamstown; work starts in summer

WILLIAMSTOWN — Changes are in the works for the area around the Williamstown Welcome Center.

Rusty Roten, West Virginia Division of Highways District Three engineer, said the improvement, a roundabout, at the intersection of West Virginia 14 and 31 will enhance safety in the area and improve traffic flow.

A roundabout is also called a traffic circle, road circle, rotary or rotunda, and is a type of circular intersection or junction in which road traffic flows almost continuously in one direction.

“This will allow all traffic to keep moving; you won’t have all the stopping and starting which produces more pollution and congestion,” Roten said Wednesday. “We looked at this area for traffic signal and it did not lend itself to that. Based on cost estimates we did, which included the future maintenance and upkeep, this was the best option.”

Roten said the studies show roundabouts are safer.

“You’re not going to be T-boned or hit head-on; it will be more like a sideswipe,” he said.

Roten said construction on the project could begin this summer.

“We have final plans with the consultants; we are waiting for an environmental permit,” he said. “There is a small structure in Williams Creek. We are required to have environmental clearance.”

Roten said the division has been working on the permit for about a month and hopes to begin construction during the 2018 building season.

“Those permits can take up to six months,” he said. “They could cause a delay but we hope to start this summer.”

Roten said the project does not call for many more lanes added to the area except for a few transition lanes.

Funding for the project is from a federal grant called CMAQ, which stands for Congestion Management and Air Quality.

In West Virginia, there are three roundabouts, two in Marion County near 1-79 into Fairmont and one in Morgantown. Two other places are slated for these, he said.

One lane will be large enough to allow for trucks, even double trucks, in the Williamstown project.

Willliamstown Mayor Jean Ford said the city has been pushing for an improvement for traffic flow in the area. She said with all that has been built there, over the years, it is a busy area and there have been accidents in the area.

“We’ve been working on this for five years; this is one of the big reasons I plan to run for mayor again. I want to see this and the elementary school done,” Ford said.

Ford said the city’s main concern was safety in the area.

“We used to have an accident every week,” she said. “We pushed for a stop light. Up there the traffic is coming off the interstate, off Routes 31 and 14, from the Go-Mart, the Dutch Pantry, the motel, the welcome center and from town.”

Ford said when the state proposed the roundabout she was not sure what the engineers were talking about.

“They took me to one in Athens,” she said. “I rode over there and could see it was a good idea for the city. In talks with then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin we brought them up and he was very receptive to the idea.”