It is projected that by next year, 75 percent of Appalachian Corridor H will be complete. While it is estimated that the other 25 percent will take another 22 years to finish, one group is continuing its push to speed that process to eight years.
The Corridor, its proposed routes and spurs, mitigation process, and resulting recognition of endangered species have been debated in the area for decades. Through the years, hundreds of people have attended town hall meetings and provided opinions for officially recorded public comment. Others have even filed lawsuits. To this day, not everyone agrees on whether the road should be built.
Still, it's just about impossible for anyone to deny the economic benefits the 130-mile roadway stretching from Interstate 79 at Weston to the Virginia border will open for the state.
This week, several groups came together at West Virginia Wesleyan College to discuss Corridor H's role in giving the state a greater economic presence in the world. Among the speakers was Russell Held, executive deputy director of the Virginia Port Authority. He emphasized the domestic and international gains the Mountain State could experience as a result of the port's proximity to international shipping lanes and two-thirds of the population in the United States. Hardwoods and other West Virginia products could then have a bigger marketplace throughout the world.
Above all, the road would bring jobs - an estimated 80,000 throughout the region, according the Corridor H Authority. Additionally, a recently passed transportation bill includes provisions to create jobs for highway workers.
The Corridor H Authority's main goal is to have the roadway completed by 2020. We think that's a time that can't come soon enough for West Virginia.