BRIDGEPORT -- Harrison
County's population has been on the decline for the past three
decades, but that hasn't stopped traffic congestion in
That problem is one of the
issues identified in a recent study by the West Virginia
Department of Transportation. The state has hired consultants
from BRW Inc. of Charleston to examine county census data,
employment data and current traffic conditions as part of the
This week, public meetings
will be held in Bridgeport and Shinnston to discuss
transportation issues. The meetings will be Wednesday at the
Benedum Civic Center from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. and Thursday in
the Lincoln High School cafeteria from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
The goal of the meetings
is to outline alternate regional transportation improvements,
specifically for the U.S. Route 50 corridor, the U.S. Route 19
corridor and access to United Hospital Center, said Bill Troe,
a BRW transportation planner who specializes in forecasting
"We have identified some
possible solutions, and we will bring those to the meeting,"
Troe said. "Basically we are looking at what is there today
and what will be in the future, so we can coordinate the
traffic and come up with an affordable solution."
Harrison County Commission
President Beth Taylor applauded the idea of long-term planning
to ensure that money is spent wisely on transportation.
"I think Bridgeport Hill
is a critical problem that just continues to get more and more
congested due to all the development of Eastpointe," Taylor
said. "We're lucky that we're attracting the folks from the
outer-lying counties, but it is a double-edged sword because
the road has not been updated or modified to handle all the
From the data already
collected, one thing that surprised Troe was that employment
has continued to grow in the county, while the population has
continued to decrease. Workers are commuting from other
counties with lower populations, he said.
"Also, people are moving
farther out of the central cities and into the rural areas,
which means the use of autos is constantly increasing," Troe
While some people may not
care what the county population will be in 2025, Troe and his
co-workers are interested in predicting the traffic forecasts
in order to plan for highway development.
The last traffic study
done for Harrison County was in the 1970s, said Richard Warner
of the state Department of Transportation. Since then, there
have been a lot of changes, including the opening of the FBI
center and a shift in population and transportation issues, he
"We really need to look at
the area as a whole and how one project relates to another,"
Warner said. "We have to look at what's happening, what will
happen and try to address it with an affordable transportation
"We have more confidence
in our decisions when it's based on a comprehensive study,"
Warner said. "If you don't have a study like this, it's very
difficult to make wise investment decisions for transportation
The study, which began
last May, is about halfway completed. The plan that evolves
from the study will be a 20-year plan, Warner said.
For information on the
study, visit the project Web site at www. harrisontrans.org.
Staff writer Jennifer
Biller can be reached at 626-1449 or