BISMARCK, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin took the opportunity Thursday while helping to cut the ribbon on a new 4.4-mile stretch of Corridor H to announce the state Division of Highways will use a different financing model to build the next 7.5 miles of the much-talked about highway.
Tomblin has instructed the DOH to put the section from Kerens to Parsons out to bid under the public-private partnership option. State Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox applauded the decision.
“We’ve constructed a lot of highway on Corridor H over the past 10 years and we currently have a lot of momentum and it’s great to see that momentum being carried forward,” Mattox told MetroNews.
PPP allows the DOH to choose a contractor, which in turn chooses an engineer on the project. The DOH then evens out its monthly payments for the project over the life of the contract instead of paying a contractor more when more work is being done. Mattox said the option, which is currently being used on the Coalfields Expressway and U.S. Route 35, is working well. He said it’s possible with a project like Corridor H the payments would have to be extended beyond the construction.
“They are going to be pretty expensive sections of highway,” Mattox said. “It may be you may need to extend those payments over a 10 to 15-year period, something of that magnitude, an additional 5 to 10 years beyond the construction period.”
The Corridor H Authority supports the PPP option being used on the rest of Corridor H in order to finish the highway by 2020.
The last section to open, which was celebrated Thursday, takes the road from Bismarck in Grant County to the Tucker County line.
“It’s just a beautiful highway. It takes you right in that Mount Storm area where you are coming up and getting on top of the mountain. It’s just a gorgeous view, a world-class highway,” Mattox said.
An additional 10-mile stretch leading into Davis in Tucker County is set to open later this year. Mattox said adding the 7.5 miles announced Thursday will complete all but 25 miles of the road.