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CHARLESTON — A new traffic pattern began Thursday on the existing two-lane section of US 35 in Putnam County as construction on the final, 15-mile stretch of the four-lane upgrade nears completion.

Traffic heading south on the existing two-lane US 35 will see a new transition onto the existing four-lane section of highway about 3/4 mile southwest of the Buffalo Bridge, according to a news release from the West Virginia Division of Highways.

Northbound motorists where the current four-lane turns to two-lane will see almost no change in their traffic pattern. However, southbound drivers will now use the new southbound entrance ramp to gain access to the existing four-lane.

Southbound drivers will now head straight up the hill southwest of the Buffalo Bridge and pass underneath the new stretch of unopened four-lane at new bridges built near Shamrock Road. After passing under the new bridges, drivers will then make a hard left-hand turn to gain access back onto the existing four-lane.

The new traffic pattern will be in effect for between 60 and 90 days as paving work is completed on the final 15-mile stretch of unopened four-lane. Message boards and new traffic control signals provide plenty of warning coming into the new traffic area.

The final 15-mile stretch of four-lane was made possible with funding from Gov. Jim Justice’s Roads to Prosperity program, and is expected to be complete later this fall. The project will make US 35 a four-lane highway from its beginning at Interstate 64 near Teays Valley, through Putnam and Mason counties, and all the way to the Ohio State line. Upgrading US 35 to a four-lane highway has been a goal of the West Virginia Division of Highways since the 1980s.

The final stretch of four-lane, with a price tag near $244 million, has already seen more than 16.8 million cubic yards of earth moved and more than 73,500 tons of asphalt laid. The new stretch of four-lane will run from the Buffalo Bridge in Putnam County to Beech Hill in Mason County.

Justice and WVDOH plan a major event to celebrate opening of the final section of four-lane later this fall.

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