The longtime dream of completing Corridor H during this decade just became a little closer to reality.
Corridor H Authority Chairman Steve Foster praised and thanked U.S. Sens. John D. Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va., for the leadership and support during the U.S. Senate's 74-22 passage of a surface transportation bill that targets the Appalachian Development Highway System as a "national priority."
"This is phenomenal news. Sen. Rockefeller took a proactive approach in his committee toward helping us finish Corridor H. We couldn't be more appreciative of the work Sens. Rockefeller and Manchin have done, both quietly and publicly, to help us finish this great project," Foster said in a news release Thursday.
Rockefeller chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He recommended the "national priority" status for ADHS projects.
The ADHS connects rural areas in 13 Appalachian states to major highways, helping economic development. Corridor H is the only incomplete part of the ADHS system in West Virginia and one of the few incomplete projects nationally.
"We feel confident the U.S. House will also see the importance of this transportation bill, and we certainly believe that we'll have the backing of our congressional representatives," Foster said.
"Congressman (Nick) Rahall and Congresswoman (Shelley Moore) Capito have certainly been vocal in their support."
Beginning in 2010, Foster and other North Central West Virginia and Potomac Highlands economic development directors and elected officials began a highly visible campaign to refocus a spotlight on what Foster called "the inequity of Corridor H - our unfinished highway."
Foster and others worked to put together the Corridor H Authority, a coalition of business leaders, grassroots activists and state, county and municipal officials.
Noting that Corridor H was earmarked for completion in 2034, the authority adopted an aggressive slogan - "The 2020 Vision" - that called for Congress and transportation officials to complete Corridor H at least 14 years ahead of schedule.
Construction has been active on Corridor H during the past two years.
Then-Gov. Manchin announced the completion of one major section of highway, as well as an aggressive financing plan that allowed construction to begin on significant portions of the highway between Davis and Moorefield.
As a result, 75 percent of Corridor H will be completed by the end of 2013.
"We're getting there," Foster said. "I honestly believe 2020, or maybe even sooner, is now a realistic goal."