Commission urges public to speak up on U.S. 35

By Beth Sergent

December 7, 2013

POINT PLEASANT —There’s no better moment than the present to get things done.

The Mason County Commission is asking local government and from across the region to speak up about getting U.S. 35 completed by letting their voices be heard by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

At a recent commission meeting, Commissioners Miles Epling, Rick Handley and Tracy Doolittle spoke about urging residents to engage Tomblin’s office with a letter writing campaign to politely stress how important the completion of U.S. 35, without tolls, is to the people of Mason and surrounding counties.

The commission is hopeful a way to finance the completion of the remaining 14.6 miles can be found in the public-private partnership senate bill passed earlier this year. Also known as Senate Bill 190, this new law allows the state highway commissioner to approve public road projects without legislative approval — these projects would then be subject to financing and construction via a private company if that company meets all the requirements contained in the bill. So, in effect, U.S. 35 could be paid for in installments or over time by the state within the provisions of this bill, and possibly bonds, and more importantly to many in Mason County, without tolling.

During this week’s commission meeting, President Rick Handley said he’d recently spoken to Commission of Highways Secretary Paul A. Mattox, Jr. Handley said Mattox indicated to him the right-of-ways for the project have been obtained, the plans are ready and the completion of U.S. 35 is at the top of the wish list for the Division of Highways. Handley said Mattox indicated the project is now in Tomblin’s office waiting for approval. Handley also said, only a few weeks ago, the governor indicated to him he wanted the project completed, as well.

Doolittle said the commission simply wants to encourage people to let their voices be heard at what could be an opportune moment in time when it comes to completing U.S. 35, particularly with SB 190 in place.

To contact Tomblin by mail, send letters to: Office of the Governor, State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, WV 25305. To contact the governor by phone, call (304) 558-2000 or 1-888-438-2731. To contact the governor via email, go to his official website at, then click on “contact us” and “submit a comment.”