PARSONS — Leaders from local, state, and national levels gathered in a remote field in Tucker County on Tuesday to announce that the construction of another section of Corridor H will soon be underway.
Gov. Jim Justice, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Congressman David McKinley, R-Second District, were joined at the location by state Department of Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston and Robbie Morris, Corridor H Highway Authority chairman and Randolph County Development Authority executive director.
The aforementioned five, who have all been instrumental in pushing for the completion of the Corridor H highway, took part in the ceremony to announce an approved bid award for the construction of the Corridor H Cheat River Bridge.
“This project is unbelievable and now we are ready to get it built,” Justice said. “I love it from the standpoint that we got a lot of stuff done and we are continuing to do more and more. We have 23 miles that we still have to go and we are making real progress. I’m going to keep pumping all the money I can pump into moving the projects faster and faster.”
The winning bid for the project was from Triton Construction of St. Albans for $147,839,550. The bridge will be 3,300 feet across, and will be among the longest bridges in the state once it’s complete.
“The most important project period is Corridor H,” Justice said. “There are some other projects down in the southern part of the state I would like to see complete, but without any question this is No. 1, and it has to be.”
The four-lane bridge will connect the 15-mile stretch of Corridor H between Kerens and Parsons with the section between Parsons and Davis. Capito said $195 million has been included in the new infrastructure package for this project.
“This was always the key to this part of West Virginia and it remains the key,” Capito said. “And with Gov. Justice as our governor I know that is going to happen. I want to thank Jimmy (Wriston) and all of those over at the Department of Transportation for all that you have done for us at a federal level. And with Robbie (Morris) and his leadership at the Corridor H Coalition.”
Once it’s fully completed, Corridor H will connect Interstate 79 in Weston to Interstate 81 in Strasburg, Virginia. The original construction of the highway began back in the 1970s.
“What’s bothered me about Corridor H is that it has been 50 years, we started in an interchange in Weston in 1972 under Arch Moore, Shelley’s father,” McKinley said. “And over the years if Corridor H would have been connected to Charleston, or to Wheeling or Parkersburg, it would have been finished by now. But because it’s in the rural section of West Virginia, it’s just kind of got pushed aside. People just ignored it until Gov. Justice came on board. Now with the governor, we are going to push this thing forward and finish it.”
There are currently 123 miles of Corridor H open to traffic in the Mountain State. To date an estimated $1.9 billion has been spent on Corridor H and there is a projected $1.10 billion worth of work remaining.
“What a great day it is any time we get to announce new sections of Corridor H and new projects,” Morris saud. “It just makes my week, my month and my year. Gov. Justice has been dedicated to Corridor H and it is a very expensive project, but it’s a very worthwhile project.
“This section of West Virginia absolutely needs Corridor H and we have waited long enough for its completion. For the first time under the direction of Gov. Justice, people are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There’s a plan to not only keep working on it, but to finish it.”
Justice also took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier in the day Tuesday at Blacker Falls State Park Lodge in Tucker County. The ceremony was held to celebrate the grand-opening of a multimillion dollar renovation project at the lodge and improvements to other facilities at the park.
The total cost of the renovations was $6.85 million, of which $5.2 million went into the lodge alone. Canaan Valley Resort State Park is also nearing the completion of a $2.65 million upgrade to its facilities.
Upgrades include a renovated lodge and cabins at Blackwater Falls and improvements to the tube park, ski area, cabin and campground at Canaan Valley Resort State Park.