Of course, good highways remain essential to economical development today, and roads have always been an especially difficult challenge for West Virginia., What irony that the magnificent “summits bathed in glory” that virtually define us can also sometimes hinder economic prosperity.
In 1965, the Appalachian Development Act was authorized by Congress. That legislation was the federal government’s promise to help us overcome barriers and promote the region’s economic development. The ADA proposed a system of Corridor highways that would traverse some of the most rugged terrain in the eastern United States, opening commerce to the entire Appalachian region, stimulating growth, and alleviating poverty.
Corridor H remains the only unfinished Appalachian corridor highway in West Virginia’s portion of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS). Corridor H in West Virginia is planned to stretch from I-79 at Weston through the Potomac Highlands to the Virginia state line. Completing it has become my transportation crusade.
Nearly 66 miles of the corridor in West Virginia have been completed and are open to traffic. An additional 23 miles are under construction and a 19-mile segment is under final design and awaiting funding. On Sept. 17, a ceremony marked the completion of a 7-mile segment of Corridor H which included a new bridge over the South Branch of the Potomac. This ceremony also included the groundbreaking for a new 10-mile segment of Corridor H, which will connect the western edge of the Moorefield Bridge to Patterson Creek Road and Forman, W.Va.
Recently, I secured $4.5 million in the FY 2010 Transportation and HUD Appropriations bill which will be used primarily for work on the roadway between Bismarck and Forman. And to date I have secured more than $350 million in past appropriations bills for Corridor H construction. The state of West Virginia also receives annual ADHS funding to help in our construction efforts.
The good people of central and eastern West Virginia need Corridor H to be able to get to their jobs, their schools, their hospitals, and to get the products they manufacture to market. I am as ardent as ever in my intent to see that the promise made by the Federal Government to the people of Appalachia is kept. The people have been waiting for this system for 45 years, which is far too long. Corridor H -- Finish it!"