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Corridor H Authority wants to move up completion date

DAVIS, W.Va. — Dignitaries dodged heavy equipment just to get to the ceremony Monday to break ground on another stretch of the Corridor H highway. The construction delay normally would be frustrating, but to Steve Foster, chairman of the Corridor H Authority, the delay was sweet music.

“In order to get here you had to cross construction of Corridor H right outside the gates here at the Canaan Valley Institute,” he said. “You can actually see the heavy equipment moving dirt.”

The most recent contract on the long sought highway is a stretch to connect Davis in Tucker County to Scherr in Grant County. Foster said Marvin Murphy with the state Division of Highways indicated during the ceremony three more projects are ready for bidding on the road.

“Once those three are constructed, we’re down to 16 miles to be constructed in West Virginia,” Foster said.

The projected completion date for the highway is 2034. The highway was first discussed in 1962. Foster said that’s long enough and the time-line for completion needs to be moved up. His organization will hire a professional economist to study the impact of completing the road by 2020 instead of 2034.

“We’re going to do an economic impact study,” he said.”I’ve got to believe the numbers are going to be staggering.”

Foster said already the impact of the road in areas where it is finished is begin enjoyed and traffic numbers increase every year as more and more motorists discover a new route across the mountains in West Virginia’s highlands.  But the discussion ultimately comes down to funding.

“The ARC (Appalachian Regional Commission), which is the people who monitor this highway fund, is absolutely behind us,” he said. “This is one of the last corridors to be completed in the whole Appalachian Corridor system.”

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