WV Senators: potential funding secured for Corridor H
WASHINGTON — West Virginia could receive as much $16 million in federal funding for the completion of Corridor H, according to West Virginia’s congressional representatives.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said they were both instrumental in efforts to have funding for the project included in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which is expected to be passed out of a Senate subcommittee Thursday.
“This is really good news for Corridor H and all infrastructure funding in the state,” Capito said. “I was able to get a provision in there that re-sparks the Appalachian Highway Development Highway System. Most of that is complete except for Corridor H, and it has sort of fallen off of the radar screen.”
Manchin said he has worked to finish the Corridor H project throughout his political career.
“When I was governor, I made it a priority to open more than half of Corridor H,” Manchin said.
“And today I am proud to have secured this funding in the THUD appropriations bill that includes funding for Corridor H that will give our state a great resource to bring people to West Virginia,” Manchin said. “This funding will expand transportation across our state, boosting our economy through tourism and recreation.”
The Appalachian Development Highway System was established as part of the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 and created a network of highway corridors connecting local and regional routes in Appalachian states to the interstate highway system.
Corridor H, which will span 146.1 miles between Weston and Strasburg, Virginia, when complete, has been under construction for decades but has stalled numerous times due to environmental concerns and funding challenges.
The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act also includes potential funding for bridge repairs and restorations in the state, Capito said.
“That is a big issue for West Virginia. We have a lot of bridges that are structurally deficient, and West Virginia could be the beneficiary of some dollars on that,” she said. “I think it would be very useful to the highway department. It could be as much as $67 million for West Virginia for our bridges.”
In July, Capito and Manchin, along with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., wrote a letter to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging it to prioritize funding for the Appalachian Development Highway System and citing its economic importance.
The Appalachian Development Highway System currently supports more than 168,000 jobs that generate $7.3 billion in wage income that would otherwise go unrealized, according to the letter.
Completion of the system is projected to generate an additional $8.7 billion per year in economic activity and support 46,000 jobs and $2.7 billion in worker income, according to the letter.
While more than 90 percent of the Appalachian Development Highway System is complete, efforts still need to be made to ensure West Virginia’s final portion is finished, Capito said.
“We know what the value of Corridor H is going to be once it’s completed,” she said. “We can already see what it’s doing as far as it has gotten, so I’m just working as hard as I can to get that system completed.”
Robbie Morris, chairman of the Robert C. Byrd Corridor H Highway Authority, said the potential funding is welcome news for West Virginia and its economy.
“The Corridor H Highway Authority is beyond excited to hear that the Appalachian Development Highway System funding has returned to the transportation funding bill,” he said. “We believe it is critical that the Appalachian Development Highway System be completed throughout Appalachia so rural communities can reap the benefits it provides. Having a dedicated funding source will allow for the system, including Corridor H, to be completed in a shorter time period.”
By: Charles Young
Source: The Exponent Telegram
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