Opinion

Federal agency wasting money on corridor study

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — It often seems as though government organizations search out ways to throw away money. Take, for example, the Appalachian Development Highway System, established by Congress 50 years ago, to increase economic development in isolated Appalachian regions, through improved infrastructure.

Back then, the federal government planned to build 3,571 miles of four-lane corridors (West Virginians will be familiar with Corridors D, E, H, G, L and Q). But over the course of half a century, it has managed to complete just over 70 percent of the planned system.

Realizing it has fallen far behind in its stated mission, the Appalachian Regional Commission has therefore come up with a plan – pay someone to study the economic implications of the uncompleted sections of highway. Better yet, they plan to give the winning research firm 18 months to complete the study. It is almost as though the folks at the ARC will not feel right about the situation until they have both paid someone to tell them what they already know and delayed progress by a year-and-a-half.

Perhaps the worst part is that the Corridor H Authority has already completed a study for them. That study showed central West Virginia could lose out on as much as $1.25 billion if Corridor H is not completed by 2020.

Granted the cost of yet another study would likely not pay for more than a couple of miles of highway – although, give a research firm 18 months to run up costs, and who knows what the final total might be? But add up such irrational moves on the part of government entities during the past 50 years and a clearer picture of the kind of effort these groups put into truly helping their constituency begins to emerge.

Here is a thought for the ARC: Do not pay someone to conduct the study. You already know what needs to be done, and the consequences of not doing it. Quit tossing money everywhere but where it is needed, and get to work.

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