Route 20 turning lane delayed

The widening of Route 20 to add a turning lane at the intersection of Victoria Street and College Avenue in Buckhannon will not commence this spring as previously planned.

The project has been delayed once more, and this time it is expected to begin in 2014, city engineer Jay Hollen said at a recent Buckhannon City Council meeting. The goal of the project is to ease traffic congestion in the area.

Officials already knew how the lane widening will affect the properties to either side of the project area of Route 20. Those properties include Buckhannon Academy Elementary School and McDonald’s. Further research now has shown it may affect the historical value of other properties, Hollen said.

Hollen previously said a 13-foot turning lane would be added between the two lanes of traffic. To help widen the road and make room for this turning lane, part of the plan was to relocate the sidewalk in front of McDonald’s, placing it up against the retaining wall. The sidewalks on both sides would be 7.5 feet wide.

The National Environmental Policy Act is requiring that the West Virginia Division of Highways Environmental Division and State Historic Preservation Office conduct another review of the project. Part of the required review will look into the historical values of the properties involved.

Officials already have conducted reviews of how best to fit the new turning lane into the area with minimal impact to the properties. The DOH has a 24-foot right-of-way to work with.