6:00: Morning News

Corridor H Authority president welcomes state and federal funding announcements

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With end of May federal and state announcements, a clear path to full completion of the Kerens to Parsons section of Corridor H, through the heart of West Virginia, is now in place.

That leaves the following three sections that still need to be built to fully finish Corridor H, according to Robbie Morris, president of the Corridor H Authority:

– 13 miles between the West Virginia state line and Interstate 81 at Strasburg, Virginia;

– six miles from Wardensville in Hardy County to the West Virginia state line;

– ten miles connecting Parsons to Davis in Tucker County, what has been described as “the most difficult section.”

“The topography going over Backbone Mountain is significant,” Morris said of that area.

“You also have environmental constraints there that we have not had on other sections of the highway. You have cultural and historical things that you need to take into consideration as well.”

Unknowns about funding, though, are one of the main reasons why, he said, design work was not yet underway on the Parsons to Davis stretch.

Word on funding for the rest of Kerens to Parsons came back on Friday.

The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $175.6 million contract to Kokosing Corporation for designing, grading and draining work on 4.13 miles running to Parsons.

It’s the second of five phases of work.

Separately, $100 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects Program was announced.

That money was designated for the construction of an interchange for Corridor H and Route 72 at Parsons, along with a bridge crossing the Cheat River and an additional 4.6 miles of Corridor H heading toward Thomas.

Morris said, while he was expecting to hear soon about the state DOT contract, he was “shocked” by the Corridor H funding announcement out of Washington, D.C.

Late last year, $20 million in federal funding was designated for paving on under-construction highway sections.

“But as far as truly significant money coming towards Corridor H, it’s been over a decade since Corridor H has received any specific funding out of Washington, so that is the way that Corridor H is going to get built sooner rather than later,” Morris said.

“We hope to build on this momentum and see some more announcements like this coming out in the next couple years.”

In a statement, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said such infrastructure investments were critical to the Mountain State’s economic future.

“Projects like Corridor H are not only beneficial for travelers and those living in nearby communities, but they have the potential to substantially improve our state’s commerce and economic potential by connecting West Virginia to other transportation hubs,” she said.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) agreed.

“Completing Corridor H is important to the economic growth and prosperity of our state,” he said.

In eastern West Virginia, pre-engineering work was in process on the Wardensville side of Corridor H as of the start of June, Morris told MetroNews

He also indicated some discussions were taking place about Virginia’s portion of the future highway.

As for a completion timeline, “With some help some Washington and the continued prioritization out of Charleston, I would like to think that we can really see the majority of Corridor H completed and get this thing off the books within the 2020 decade,” Morris said.

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