Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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October 21, 2013

Study: Speeding up Corridor H good for W.Va.

CHARLESTON — West Virginia would receive $1.25 billion in new revenue and an uninterrupted link to the Inland Port in Front Royal, Va., if the completion of Corridor H is accelerated, according to an economic impact study released Monday.

The 143-mile four-lane highway’s proposed completion date is 2036. The study conducted by RQA Group examined the economic impact of the highway if it was completed in 2020.

In addition to the new revenue that would be generated, the highway’s construction would add $800 million to the state’s economy.

The study looked at projected economic growth, savings on safety-related costs such as insurance, expenses and travel-time related savings. Its estimates are in dollar values.

Corridor H, which was first proposed in 1964, is the only section of the Appalachian Corridor System that has not been finished. When it is completed, it will connect Interstate 79 near Weston with the junction of Interstates 81 and 66 in Front Royal.

The study’s findings were released by the Robert C. Byrd Corridor H Highway Authority, which is pushing for the project to be completed in 2020.

“This is an important study, because it quantifies what many of us have felt was the case all along. We’re not surprised in the least that the state would benefit by a billion and a quarter dollars if we finish Corridor H in what we think is a timely manner,” authority Chairman Steve Foster said in a news release.

“We felt it was important to see hard data that shows just what we could miss out on if we don’t get this highway completed,” Foster said. “Throw in the $800 million we could save on construction costs, and I think people can see why finishing this now makes sense.”

A completed Corridor H is important to both West Virginia and Virginia, he said.

“The study gives us numbers to offer government agencies and elected officials that tell all of us in a clear way what Corridor H will do for us,” Foster said.

In West Virginia, 75 percent of the highway is either under construction or open.


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