While the powers that be– including State Senator Charles Trump (R-Morgan) and House of Delegates Majority Leader Daryl Cowles (R-Morgan) — are lining up behind the proposed bypass around Berkeley Springs, there is significant public opposition.
Front and center in opposition is Morgan County Chamber of Commerce President Jeanne Mozier.
Mozier argues that a bypass around Berkeley Springs will kill the town.
“I still oppose the bypass,” Mozier said earlier this year. “I’ve been opposed for the last twenty some years. And nothing changes my mind. The bypass would be a death knell for the town.”
And at last night’s meeting at Berkeley Springs High School, held by the West Virginia Division of Highways, the bypass faced vocal opposition from many of the more than fifty citizens who attended.
Some are opposed because of the direct adverse impact it would have on their properties.
Others — like Eric and Carol Miller — are opposed to the bypass because of the direct adverse impact the bypass would have on the community.
The Millers met in Europe while serving in the Army.
Eric is a middle school teacher. Carol is an industrial electrician.
The Millers moved to Morgan County fifteen years ago, bought a 100 year old farmhouse on Johnson Mill Road about five miles outside of town, where they live amidst their library of thousands of books, many on World War I. (Eric is a historian of the Western Front.)
The Millers came to Morgan County from the I-95 corridor on the East Coast, in part to get away from East Coast interstate highway culture.
And they don’t like what they see in the Berkeley Springs bypass proposal.
Eric says that there are ways to divert truck traffic without building a multi-million bypass that will fundamentally change the community.
“Communities around the country know how to redirect truck traffic without a bypass,” Eric Miller said “Speed bumps, enhanced enforcement, truck weigh stations.”
Carol Miller said that around each of the interchanges of the bypass will pop-up fast food joints, gas stations and big box stores — and that will change the nature of the town.
The Millers say they are willing to fight to preserve Morgan County.
“Do you want to live in Hagerstown?” one opponent asked last night. “Or do you want to live in Berkeley Springs?”