U.S. House, Senate bills take ‘creative’ approach to possible Corridor H funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. — “We’re trying to find creative solutions,” said U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) of bills now pending in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House addressing potential additional construction funding for Corridor H.

As proposed, the measures would allow states with excess funding designated specifically for the development of the Appalachian Development Highway System, created under the Appalachian Regional Commission, to exchange that money for more general use highway funding.

States, like West Virginia, trying to complete Appalachian highway projects could then apply for the available exchanged money.

Corridor H, designed to directly connect Interstate 79 at Weston to the Virginia state line near Strasburg with a four-lane highway, is the only Appalachian corridor project out of six in West Virginia that’s not finished.

Currently, the four-lane ends at Kerens in Randolph County and picks up again near Davis in Tucker County and continues from there to Wardensville in Hardy County.

U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, (R-W.Va.)

“The final stretch of this project is the most difficult one due to topography, rivers and other natural challenges,” said 2nd District Congressman Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) who recently introduced the Advancing Infrastructure Development in Appalachia or AID Act in the U.S. House.

“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 estimated it would take $800 million to finish Corridor H in West Virginia.

Records showed ADHS dollars not yet obligated totaled $1 billion from 12 states as of earlier this year.

His bill was initially referred to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management.

Capito introduced the companion bill in the U.S. Senate in July.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)

“If you’re a state that has Appalachian highway dollars and you really don’t have a project that you really want to use it on but you have congestion elsewhere, you would trade those dollars in to have more flexibility,” Capito said.

The co-sponsors of the House legislation included 1st District Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.), 3rd District Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-W.Va.) and Congressman David Trone (D-Maryland).

“We have a bipartisan approach here. We think this should find broad support in Congress,” Mooney said.

“For decades we’ve talked about finishing this road and it’s time to get it done.”

In Virginia, there has been no movement on the section of Corridor H that would run between the West Virginia state line and Interstate 81 at Strasburg.

The Appalachian Development Highway System, authorized by Congress in 1965, was envisioned as a 3,090-mile system of modern highway corridors to supplement interstates in connecting 13 states to drive economic development.

More than 90 percent of that system was either under construction or open to traffic, according to the ARC’s latest information.

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