Improving West Virginia’s infrastructure is one of my top priorities.

When I was first elected to Congress, I joined the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and identified the construction of a four-lane U.S. Route 35 from Interstate 64 in Putnam County to the Ohio River in Mason County as my highest goal. That goal will soon become a reality.

Today, I am joining West Virginia Secretary of Transportation Byrd White to examine progress on this vital link between the Kanawha Valley and the Midwestern United States, which is slated for completion in the summer of 2021.

Residents across our region, especially in Putnam and Mason counties, have long recognized the economic and safety benefits that a four-lane Route 35 will provide.

The completed road will improve the quality of life for local residents and help attract new jobs to the area.

It has been a long path, working with local leaders, state officials, federal administrations, and congressional colleagues to secure the necessary funds to make Route 35 a reality.

Building a road in West Virginia is expensive and takes time, but the benefits to our state are well worth the costs. That is why I championed federal funding for Route 35 at every possible turn.

Between 2001 and 2006, I secured $105 million in specific congressionally directed spending to build Route 35. Combined with formula dollars authorized by the highway bills I supported in Congress, more than $500 million in federal funds were spent on Route 35 between 2001 and 2018.  Additional federal dollars continue to be utilized as the project nears completion.

I have worked with four different gubernatorial administrations on Route 35, as the state has provided its required matching funds for the project. The Roads to Prosperity program proposed by Governor Jim Justice and supported by West Virginia voters provided a vital final push to finish this important road. I appreciate the governor’s commitment to investing in roads and bridges across our state.

Today, there are two distinct ways that federal highway dollars are sent to states: 

  1. Formula funding provided by the federal government to state departments of transportation.
  1. Discretionary grants issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

My senior role on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee is critical to securing West Virginia’s future infrastructure funding.

I am one of the lead sponsors of America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act that has passed the EPW Committee with unanimous bipartisan support. This legislation would increase West Virginia’s highway formula dollars by $50 million in the first year alone. Given the significant role that these formula dollars play in both highway maintenance and construction, getting the bill passed is vital to our state’s future.

Discretionary grants from DOT are also important to financing major projects. But, from 2013 through November 2018, West Virginia received only $10 million in discretionary federal grant funds for roads and bridges.

I became chairman of the Senate EPW Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure following the November 2018 election with the goal of securing more discretionary highway funding for our state. Since December 2018, I have secured $181.4 million in these discretionary highway funds for West Virginia projects through my positon as chairman and in partnership with President Trump’s administration. Over the last 20 months, West Virginia has received 18 times more discretionary highway funds than it did during the prior five years. That includes a $20 million discretionary grant for widening the I-64 Nitro-St. Albans Bridge.

Working with President Trump, Governor Justice, and their administrations, I will continue striving to maximize federal highway dollars to West Virginia to improve our roads and bridges.

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U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. She is also a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.