Update 11/14/2012 6:40 P.M.
It may not have been with traffic changes in mind, but Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church relocated 15 years ago to the interesection of route 14 and Turkey Foot Road. Beginning Thursday, it will be at the foot of a new bridge connecting it with interstate 77.
"We hope it will draw friends from farther away than Mineral Wells," says Pastor Kevin Lantz. "So this is a good opportunity for that."
Indeed, businesses and motorists have been patiently waiting for the connecting bridge to open. Construction was delayed earlier this year because of problems with its original piers. But expect this opening to be far more low key than the opening four years ago of the bridge which marked the completion of Corridor D.
"It might be a celebration in our minds just getting it open, Rusty Roten, District Engineer, West Virginia Division of Highways. "But as far as an official, political recognition of the opening, I haven't been contacted about anything like that."
In fact, its official completion isn't planned before next spring, with paving of private driveways yet to take place. But Pastor Lantz says the bridge's completion is the beginning of a new era for the area.
"We see this part of the community growing; we see more and more development in Mineral Wells. So this is going to be an opportunity and a blessing as far as travel for people."
While the bridge will be open, the traffic signals won't be working for a couple of weeks.
During that transition, the old route 14 route will remain open to drivers, with electronic signs advising them of the changes in the traffic pattern.
Construction on the route 14 bridge project has moved to the interstate 77 side of Mineral Wells.
And that's caused some inconvenience to both motorists and businesses near the interstate exit.
Pifer's Service Center saw a drop of as much as 50% in business at one point last week.
But the owner says that, once it is completed, the road itself should be an improvement.
"The new road, after it is completed, with the exit ramp and the new bridge going to Elizabeth, should make the exit flow a lot better," says Michael Pifer, "and the traffic shouldn't be too congested at all. But it is a major improvement from what we have had."
As we've been reporting, the project was delayed earlier this year because of concerns over the stability of the bridge supports.
Work resumed late this spring, and it's hoped the construction can be finished by december.
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