Residents of the Grassy Ridge Road area near the Dominion Power Plant at Mount Storm want to know who is going to repair the roadway into their summer cabins and residential communities and when.
The road is being damaged by heavy equipment use during the construction of the NedPower wind project.
Tim O’Leary, communications manager with Shell WindEnergy, which will operate the project when it is completed, said Friday that the company and the contractor have reached an agreement with the state, and NedPower/Shell will pay for the repaving when the project is complete.
Large pieces of equipment, including tower sections and turbine units, are still being brought in on Grassy Ridge Road.
The result has been considerable damage to the road and in some instances to residents’ vehicles, according to Jerry Burch, whose home is in one of the private communities off Grassy Ridge.
Burch is one of several property owners in the area who is suing to stop the wind project. They say the wind farm will lower their property values and destroy the viewshed.
The case was rejected by Circuit Judge Phil Jordan a year ago and appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court, which sent it back to the circuit court for a hearing in May. The case is still pending, but Burch said he’s selling out anyway.
Burch said Frank Miller, a member of the board of directors of the Hidden Acres Property Owners Association, wrote state transportation director Paul Mattox a letter on behalf of 16 property owners concerning the road. The letter notes that the heavy equipment involved in the project “has broken and rutted the blacktop” over most of the road and while the Division of Highways has repaired much of it, there are still areas below the blacktop that have a washboard effect and are very dusty.
“This is very hard on our vehicles,” he wrote. “Several people have also complained the construction traffic has thrown up gravel and chipped paint on their vehicles.”
Miller requests in the letter that the entire length of Grassy Ridge Road – about four miles – be totally repaved.
Miller’s letter indicates that the local district engineer said the state doesn’t have sufficient monies to repave the road.
Robert Amtower, Division of Highways District 5 engineer, said recently that he is aware of letters that are being sent to local officials, state legislators and federal lawmakers concerning the condition of the road. “The road is being repaired as best we can while the heavy equipment continues to use it,” he said, pointing out there is little point in fully repaving until the project is complete.
Amtower said that Mortensen, the contractor on the project, is assisting with the repairs by providing the stone being used to replace some of the washed-out base. Considerable repairs have been completed over the last two months since the first of the turbine towers started arriving at the site.
“There was a question about who is going to pay for repaving the road once the project is complete,” he said.
That was resolved with O’Leary’s announcement Friday.
O’Leary said that residents who have complaints concerning damage to their vehicles should contact Mortensen. “The company has a claims process in place,” he said.
By Mona Ridder
24 July 2007
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