Exit 1

Traffic flows past Exit 1 on I-77, Thursday. 

BLUEFIELD — The City of Bluefield has started the process to obtain a “controlled access” off the I-77 northbound exit ramp at Exit 1.

Jim Spencer, director of economic and community development as well as the Bluefield Economic Development Authority, asked the City Board Tuesday to approve a letter from the city that will be sent to the state (Department of Highways) and federal government asking for approval of the change.

Spencer said the exit ramp will change as it enters John Nash Boulevard and provide better access to the land across the road that is being developed by the city.

“Straight across from that entrance (from Exit 1) onto John Nash will be the entrance (to the development),” he said, adding that this has been part of the overall plan regarding that property since the beginning. “That is considered controlled access.”

A deed of the property and a map of the development plan must also be submitted with the letter, he added.

The city owns more than 80 acres at that exit and started the process of developing for commercial use several years ago.

The more than $2 million project is being funded by a federal $1 million EDA (Economic Development Administration) grant and matching funds from local foundations.

The city property is around the headquarters of the Bluefield Area Transit (BAT).

A preliminary study for a master plan, funded in part by a grant from Appalachian Electric Power, found that between 12 and 15 acres of that area is developable.

The controlled access exit will allow motorists taking the northbound exit to have quicker, safer and easier access to the area being developed.

In other business, the board:

• Heard from Interim City Manager/City Attorney Colin Cline that four traffic lights in the city will be removed and 15 will be upgraded around the city. Those that will be removed are at the intersections of Maryland and Augusta; Bland and North; Scott and Bland; and Scott and Federal.

Stop signs will be used rather than the lights at those intersections.

Upgrading 15 lights is a seven-month project, he added, and the work will be done by the Division of Highways.

• Heard from Cline that vandalism continues in City Park, especially in restrooms.

“We are doing what we can about that but we can’t monitor them 24/7,” he said.

An option to install surveillance cameras is still being pursued, he added.

• Honored Dr. Albert James Paine, Sr., who celebrated his 100th birthday last month, with a resolution.

Paine, who was an ear, nose and throat specialist in Bluefield for 53 years before his retirement in 2005, has had an “exemplary life in service to his country and community,” the resolution read, including serving as a medical doctor in the military during World War II in the Aleutian Islands.

Paine’s wife of more than 70 years, Bea Paine, a former city board member and a bedrock of community service, was on hand for the resolution as well as some members of their family.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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