MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va. Monongalia County officials are moving the pieces into place to begin work on the Chaplin Hill Gateway in the next several months.

On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” Monongalia County Commissioner Jeff Arnett described the state and federal funding sources. Last month, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin announced a $54.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation had been approved, and the state had previously committed $66 million for the work.

“We were awarded a $54 million Mega Grant, and we were pretty excited about that because that’s really going to get that project rolling,” Arnett said. “The state has additionally committed $66 million to the project, so those are the funding sources.”

Arnett said the federal grant program was very popular, resulting in a highly competitive approval process. The funding from the state provides the proper resources to complete the work.

“We got essentially half of what we requested from the feds, and with the commitment from the state, we should be fully funded and ready to roll along with it,” Arnett said.

The funding is through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will help replace I-79 bridges over Chaplin Hill Road, reconstruct the exit 155 interchange, and construct the WB I-79 flyover with a pedestrian and bicycle connection between the Star City bridge and the regional rail-to-rail network.

“The fed money is guaranteed at $54 million, and the state has reinterpreted many times its commitment to the $66 million,” Arnett said. “It’s just working through which fiscal year it will come out of, prioritizing the project, and getting it on the books to see what date it will actually start.”

Commissioners requested $110 million from the federal government, so the state commitment to the project is important. State Department of Highways Secretary Jimmy Wriston held a meeting with Arnett and commission president Sean Sikora on January 19, confirming the $66 million for the project, and again during testimony to Senator Mike Oliverio, R. Monongalia, 13, in Charleston.

“Down at the legislature and under oath, Wrsiton committed again to the $66 million,” Arnett said. “So, we’re working as we have with our local legislators and the state to make sure the project keeps moving forward and we get what we need out there.”

Arnett said once the required environmental study is completed, residents will begin to see changes in the area.

“We have a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) study that has to be done with the feds, and I think that takes about 12 months for the project,” Arnett said. “The hope would be that in the next couple of years, that project will be started and completed.”