BISMARCK, W.Va. — Calling it “another bite out of the pie that’s been here a long time,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin joined local, state and federal representatives to cut the ribbon on a new portion of Corridor H extending from the Tucker County line to Bismarck in Grant County.
Tomblin also announced an additional 7.5-mile stretch of the Appalachian Corridor H project will go out for bid in a few weeks. That new stretch of the four-lane highway will run from Kerens half-way to Parsons. After the bid is awarded this fall, construction should start next spring, Tomblin said.
“This work is possible because of the innovative public-private partnership concept that I proposed in 2013,” Tomblin said. “The 3P concept saves money by avoiding cost increases due to inflation and helps speed up construction on our highways to spur economic development.”
“I know many of you are eager to see the entire Corridor H roadway completed and I’m committed to doing just that,” the governor said. “However, as we all know, funding has been and continues to be the major obstacle when investing in our infrastructure.”
At a May press conference, Corridor H Authority Chairman Robbie Morris detailed a plan that would use the 3P concept to complete Corridor H to the state line by 2020, years ahead of the currently projected completion date of 2036.
The Corridor H Authority is urging local residents to send postcards to Tomblin asking him to use the 3P plan to complete Corridor H. The postcards were distributed with an edition of The Inter-Mountain as well as being available at numerous locations throughout the region.
“Completing Corridor H has been a work in progress for a number of years, and I’m pleased we are able to announce work on an additional stretch of roadway to bring this project one step closer to completion,” Tomblin said. “These continued efforts are made possible through public-private partnerships that not only save taxpayers’ dollars, but help to speed up construction and spur economic growth. By investing in our infrastructure, we have the potential to impact both our state and local economies. I look forward to announcing the bidding process for this new stretch of road in a few weeks.
“For industries that require highway transportation, the Potomac Highlands is becoming an attractive option for new and existing business transportation routes. Companies across the country and around the world are noticing the changes West Virginia is making to support new and existing businesses.
“I’m confident that these new sections of the Corridor H gateway will open the door for new investments and bring about economic growth in our state’s local economy,” the governor said.
Construction on the new phase of the roadway is expected to commence next spring.
With the opening of the 4.4-mile section on Thursday, 91 miles of approximately 132 miles of Corridor H are open to traffic, including more than 50 continuous miles from Wardensville in Hardy County to the Tucker County line.
A 10-mile section currently under construction is expected to open this fall, extending the four-lane highway from Davis to the county line, connecting with the section opened Thursday.
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Tomblin told The Inter-Mountain “With this 4.4 miles today, people are very excited here. We know it’s been a long time coming. By the fall, we’ll have another 10 and a half miles open. We announced today another seven and a half -mile contract to be let to start early next year.”
“We are considering our financial condition and the lack of funding we’ve been receiving from Washington. We are continuing to move Corridor H forward, it’s been one of my priorities and it means so much to the Potomac Highlands and this part of the state to get this road finished. It will be our gateway to the East Coast. I can just see the amount of the investments both for business and for tourism coming into West Virginia. It will be the one that really finally opens West Virginia up. I’m really glad to be part of it today.”
Corridor H Authority chairman Robbie Morris said, “I think things are sounding good. He mentioned public-private partnership, which is good. I think it’s definitely in consideration. As the governor has always said, the finances have to make sense for the state, which we fully agree they have to, and we’re confident that they will.”
Tomblin was joined at the ribbon-cutting ceremony by West Virginia Secretary of Transportation Paul Mattox, Federal Highway Administration, West Virginia Division Administrator Tom Smith and representatives for Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin.