CHARLES TOWN, W.Va.—The opening of the new four-lane route for W.Va. 9 from Charles Town to the Virginia state line is slated for Wednesday after the high winds and heavy rainfall from Superstorm Sandy delayed the highway’s completion.
J. Lee Thorne, District 5 engineer/manager for the West Virginia Division of Highways, said Friday that a ceremony for the opening is planned for Wednesday at 11 a.m.
The long-anticipated section of highway was to open Nov. 2, but state officials delayed the opening after the storm left the ground saturated and thousands of state residents without power.
Highway officials had hoped to open the road by mid-October, but the contractor needed more time to complete the work.
The project included construction of a 1,650-foot-long, four-lane bridge about 200 feet above the Shenandoah River.
East of the bridge, the new W.Va. 9 eventually narrows to two lanes to tie into Va. 9 at the Loudoun County, Va., line. It continues as a two-lane road until it connects with the four-lane Va. 7.
The project’s completion comes 10 years after construction was halted by lawsuits.
Construction on the approximately five-mile section of W.Va. 9 was halted in 2002 after several groups and individuals filed lawsuits opposing the project.
Opponents had claimed in federal court that highway officials did not obtain a necessary permit to build a bridge over the Shenandoah River, and that the government failed to examine ways the existing two-lane road could be made safer and affect fewer historic properties.
The lawsuits did not delay construction of the new four-lane divided highway from the Charles Town Bypass to Martinsburg, W.Va., which opened in 2010.
The heavily traveled two-lane road between the Virginia state line and Berkeley Springs in Morgan County, W.Va., was built as a rural collector road around 1930, state officials said.