Jeanne Mozier says there is no need for the proposed $50 million Berkeley Springs bypass, that the bypass will kill the town and that the money could be better spent repaving all of the existing roads in Morgan County.
“I don’t want this bypass,” Mozier told This Week in Morgan County with Russell Mokhiber. “All the data say that what you get along a bypass are big box stores, chain food stores and gas stations.”
“For years, Travel Berkeley Springs has been collecting data on how people come to Berkeley Springs,” Mozier said. “And consistently about thirty percent of the people say the same words – we’ve been driving through your town for years. It’s so cute. And we decided – this would be the time we would stop. You take that thirty percent away to begin with. Who can afford to lose thirty percent?”
Mozier says that the political leaders in Morgan County claim to be for the bypass, until they look at the plan and suddenly they think this is not such a good idea.
Mozier said the political leaders were not familiar with the fact that the bypass plan would shut down access to 522 from the north and the south. You would actually have to get onto the bypass and then take an exit to get back onto the old 522, she said.
“The design of this bypass is so horrendous. Even Charles Trump, when he finally looked at the map he said – oh, we can’t have this.”
What would you do instead?
“Do the connector road from Fairview Drive to 522,” Mozier said. “Make it easy for all of the emergency vehicles to get to the hospital. Have some developable economic land. That’s about a six to eight million dollar project. And then give the rest of the money to Morgan County to fix every road in the county. Then everybody would be happy. They would be happy in Paw Paw. They would be happy in South Morgan. They would be happy in Pleasant View. None of them will benefit from the bypass. If we fixed every road in the county, we would be in much better shape and we wouldn’t kill our town. We have a 300 year old town that is world famous. And I promise you this – no one at the Department of Highways has ever considered what this would do to the town. No one.”
Why wouldn’t the Department of Highways spend the money to fix the roads, as you suggest?
“Because they don’t have original thoughts,” Mozier said. “They pulled the plan off the shelves and the plan was the bypass.”
“There has never been a traffic study done that establishes the need for the bypass. They have never talked to the people in Morgan County to ask – do you want a bypass.”
Twenty years ago, a similar proposal to bypass Berkeley Springs was killed off by local opposition and a lack of funding.
In 1998, a group called the Morgan County Citizens Coalition produced a 28-page legal memo in opposition to the bypass. It outlined alternatives to the bypass – including a through truck traffic prohibition, truck weight and size restrictions and truck tolling.
Mozier urged citizens of Morgan County to go online to the Department of Highways web site and weigh in against the bypass.
(The deadline for comments is tomorrow — Monday May 21, 2018.)