WV's Sen. Capito, Rep. Mooney work to secure funding for Corridor H completion
WASHINGTON — Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and Rep. Alex Mooney, both R-W.Va., have undertaken an effort aimed at securing funding required to complete the final leg of the Corridor H project.
A pair of mirroring bills, introduced by Capito in the Senate and by Mooney in the House of Representatives, would create the “Aid Appalachia Act.”
The act, which would amend section 23 of U.S. Code, would allow states with excess funding marked for Appalachian Highway System development to exchange those funds for general fund dollars, while allowing states like West Virginia to apply to receive the excess funding to complete needed projects.
“There are still states that have outstanding funds for (the) Appalachian Highway System that they are not using,” Capito said.
“So we came up with a creative way to say, ‘OK, you can trade your Appalachian Highway dollars in and get general trust fund dollars.’ And then we in West Virginia with Corridor H would be able to use those dollars because they are specifically targeted towards an Appalachian Highway development system.”
Mooney said he expects his version of the bill — which was co-sponsored by Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., and Rep David Trone, D-Md. — to find “broad support.”
“For decades we’ve talked about finishing this road, and it’s time to get it done. The final stretch of this project is the most difficult one because of the topography, rivers and other natural challenges. The roughly 27 miles left to complete will open businesses in the central part of our state to easy shipping ports on the East Coast,” Mooney said.
Tackling the issue in both chambers of Congress will give the act a better chance of becoming law, Capito said.
“I think what’s important here is that we have the House and the Senate working together,” she said. “Success is hard to get, so by both of us working together, I think ... we can’t guarantee success, but can certainly do things that make it more feasible.”
Corridor H, which will span 146.1 miles when completed, has been under construction for decades but has stalled numerous times due to environmental concerns and funding challenges.
According to information from the West Virginia Encyclopedia, development of West Virginia’s Appalachian Corridor highways began in 1965 when Sen. Jennings Randolph, D-W.Va., helped to create the Appalachian Regional Commission.
The Appalachian Development Highway System was created under the Appalachian Regional Commission to attract industry and diversify the economic base by building good roads throughout the previously isolated region.
Originally including 23 individual corridors designated alphabetically from A to W, the 3,285-mile system was designed to link the interstate highways of the 13 Appalachian states.
Of West Virginia’s six routes, designated D, E, G, H, L and Q, Corridor H is the only corridor highway that remains incomplete.
Corridor H begins at Interstate 79 at Weston and will end at Strasburg, Virginia, at Interstate 81 when completed.
Despite the controversy surrounding its development, about 75 percent of the highway was complete as of 2018. The highway is open from the Weston exit of I-79 to Kerens in Randolph County, a distance of about 41 miles. A segment of approximately 66 miles from Davis to Wardensville in Hardy County is also open to traffic.
By: Charles Young
Source: The Exponent Telegram
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