Editorial: Corridor H
Nearly two-thirds of a century after federal authorities authorized development of a major new highway system for our area of the nation, it remains uncompleted.
Today, a U.S. Senate committee will vote on a measure that could finish much of the remaining segment of an interstate-highway class road serving West Virginia.
Work on the Appalachian Development Highway System was authorized in 1965. It represents an important vision for states in our region — that construction of 3,090 miles of major new roads could spur economic development. To date, about 90% of the network has been completed.
It has helped the economies in our region. An Appalachian Regional Commission study concluded ADHS highways have created or supported about 168,000 jobs.
But here in West Virginia, a critical ADHS highway — Corridor H — remains unfinished. Much of the road between Elkins and the state line east of Wardensville has been opened, but a few segments remain to be constructed. Eventually, the hope is that Corridor H will be extended a few miles into Virginia to connect with Interstate 81.
Corridor H is important to all West Virginians, not just those living in the mountainous topography through which the highway passes. Once completed, the road will open an entire quadrant of our state for development, including that in the tourism industry.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is well aware of Corridor H’s importance to our state. During the past several months, as chairwoman of an important subcommittee, she secured $120 million in grants for the project.
An additional $100 million for Corridor H is included in a bill forwarded by another subcommittee on which Capito serves. Also included in the bill is $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, which benefits multiple municipalities in our area. Finally, it provides $1 billion for another transportation initiative that has aided West Virginia in the past.
Members of the full Senate Appropriations Committee are to take up the bill on Thursday. It needs bipartisan support to become law — as it should. It is an important step toward wrapping up the old ADHS plan, and the Corridor H work alone could be of enormous benefit to West Virginia.
Source: Elkins Inter-Mountain
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