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Capito visits 480 underpass site

By Staff | Aug 19, 2011

Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley explains to Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito the scope of the university's upcoming project, an underpass stretching under Route 480. Capito provided Shepherd $400,000 in earmarks to put towards the $4 million project, set to start construction next year. (Chronicle photo by Tricia Fulks)

Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito visited Shepherdstown Wednesday to visit the site of Shepherd University’s new Route 480 underpass, a project for which the U.S. representative provided $400,000 of fiscal year 2010 earmarks.

Shepherd President Suzanne Shipley explained to Capito (R.-W.Va.) the scope of the project during her visit, which took place at approximately 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, when many students already on campus were using the intersection and cars were passing by.

“Look at all these cars,” Capito said.

She added, “Obviously you’ve got a lot of action.”

The project is estimated to cost $4 million, and construction and provided logistics for traffic detours that will go into effect during the three-month construction period, scheduled to take place May through July 2012.

The project proposal calls for the construction of a temporary roadway through Shepherd’s West Campus. This roadway is designed to reroute traffic entering and exiting Shepherd Grade Road around the site of the underpass.

Traffic moving along Route 480 from Maryland will be rerouted through the Bavarian Inn, exit to Shepherd Grade and then travel along to the temporary roadway.

Capito said after setting aside the earmarks, her role now is to help encourage and seek grants to further the project now that Shepherd is committed to it. She said now that earmarks are no longer available in Congress, the competitive grant program will most likely be the avenue Shepherd will take.

“What’s great about coming out here today is you say to yourself, ‘This needs to be done’,” she said.

Capito cited user-friendliness and safety as reasons why the project should proceed.

“It’s a quality of life issue,” she said.

And, Capito said, it not only affects the students who will use it, locals, visitors and tourists will be affected by the change in traffic patterns during construction.

Capito said that Shipley has spoken highly of the partnership between the university and the town.

“They’re not at odds between this,” she said.

Shepherd is also working alongside the state Department of Transportation and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission during the planning process.

“I’m glad to be a part of it,” Capito said.