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Sholten Singer/The Herald-Dispatch Vehicles drive along Interstate 64 on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, in Huntington. AAA predicts Memorial Day travel rates will be as high as they've been since 2005, despite gas prices being on the rise.

Late last week, Gov. Jim Justice and officials from the West Virginia Department of Transportation announced that a contract to widen a two-mile section section of Interstate 64 from the Merritts Creek exit to the Huntington Mall exit in Barboursville from the existing four lanes to eight lanes.

The $71.7 million contract for the design-build work was awarded to Triton Construction Inc. of Nitro. Besides the widening, the project calls for the replacement of five sets of overpass bridges. "This ... is an important safety project for us," Transportation Secretary Byrd White said in a news release. "It will really open that area up and help mitigate the congestion that has been present there for years."

The project is scheduled to start next summer and be completed sometime in late 2022, according to the release.

Some online readers of The Herald-Dispatch hailed the project while others wondered about the need for it and the cost. Here are some of their comments:

David R. Tyson: "Good News for our area."

— — —

Ronald Craig: "Great! More lanes for bad driving!"

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Aaron Given: "So, years ago they were going to 6 lanes from Huntington to Charleston. Why not just do that? It is needed. It was needed 20 years ago."

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Brady Settle: "That's totally unnecessary! I drive that stretch every single day, at all times of day/evening/night. Never, ever, once has there been a significant back-up due to heavy traffic (even during football season)! It's a waste of money. I wonder what the real motivation is, because it isn't traffic!"

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Carissa Lusk: "They need the 3rd lane for the locals who think it's okay to go 55 in a 70 to get between the mall exit and the Merritts Creek exit."

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Tim Norris: "Why wouldn't you start at the next exit west of 64 at 29th street where the 6 lanes end and extend the existing 6 lanes of 64? This doesn't make good common sense and will have two sections of 6 lane road separated by 4 lanes in between. Surely the DOH has to be smarter than this!"

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Rob Shuff: "Tim Norris you'd think, but..."

— — —Karen Scaggs: "... Yes, they need that in area you are mentioning due to Marshall traffic during football season and there are a lot of wrecks in that area too."

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Holly Mathis: "$71 million for the stretch of interstate between two exits? That seems a little pricey. And why wouldn't you start at the 29th street exit?"

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Chad Bentley: "Just makes a bottle neck at mile marker 15 and 20. I'm not a traffic engineer, but that makes little sense. ... start at one end, work your way to connect the two."

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Dan Allen: "There is a separate project to widen mile markers 15-18 to 6 lanes which presumably will be bid out soon."

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Chad Bentley: "That will be nice. Hopefully in our lifetime it's connected all the way to Teays Valley."

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Justin Marlowe: "$71 million to widen 2 miles of road."

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Shannon Dilley: "Should have been done a long, long time ago."

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Steven Yates: "Question: Where is the traffic study for this widening?"

— — —Brandon Ferrell: "Is anyone surprised after the debacle between Milton and St. Albans the last 2 years?"

— — —

Melinda Perron: "But why? Traffic isn't even bad there?"

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