$51 million Route 35 upgrade due to be finished in fall of 2020

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MASON/PUTNAM COUNTIES, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A $51 million project to upgrade U.S. Route 35 in Mason and Putnam counties is expected to be complete by October of next year, state officials said on Friday.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Highways Commissioner Jimmy Wriston said crews have been working overtime to complete the project, which includes a 37-mile stretch of new roadway.

The work has been awarded to West Virginia Paving, Inc. of Dunbar.

“Today we are beginning a new look,” Justice said during a news conference.

The project, which is part of the state's Roads to Prosperity program, will upgrade Route 35 to four lanes, making access easier from West Virginia to major cities like Columbus, Ohio.

Justice said the current two-lane stretch of roadway is unsafe.

“The economic impact of this is infinite," Justice said. "I mean, it is absolutely infinite. Without any question, if you had the ability to locate in Ohio or you could locate in West Virginia and you knew your goods had to transport on roads or your people had to come to work on roads that you felt unsafe, you wouldn’t want to come here.”

Officials said the project will not raise taxes and will help expand tourism. They explained that current work consists of grading final stretches of the roadway.