By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
W.Va. Governor Jim Justice recently made an announcement that the state was receiving an additional $12 million to assist in finishing the seven mile span of Corridor H between Kerens and Route 219 in Parsons. In February, the W.Va. Department of Highways submitted an application to the United States Department of Transportation requesting the funding through the 2020 INFRA discretionary grant program. This grant program supports the commitment to fix the nation’s infrastructure by creating opportunities for funding. In a previous media release, Governor Justice attributed a large part of the progress of Corridor H to Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin.
Senator Capito serves as the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. During her time serving the state, she assisted in writing the Senate Highway Bill, which according to a statement released by her office, authorizes $287 billion to be used over the course of five years to repair and maintain the roads and bridges across America. Within the first year, the legislation would increase W.Va. highway dollars by $50 million.
The press release continued to state that since Senator Capito was elected chairman of the EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee following the election in November 2018, she has secured $132 million within the discretionary highway funds for Corridor H. In the last 20 months, W.Va. has received 181.4 million from this fund, which is 18 times the amount received over the last five years.
Senator Capito took time out of her schedule to visit the construction site between Kerens and Parsons that the $12 million has been dedicated to completing. She, along with W.Va. Secretary of Transportation Byrd White and Deputy Secretary and Acting Commissioner of Highways Jimmy Wriston experienced approximately five of the seven mile span that will connect the two municipalities. “It’s a major regional project,” stated Senator Capito. “More commerce, more goods in and out, certainly a better quality of life, and more tourists coming into West Virginia,” she stated.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed most aspects of everyday life, the construction has not slowed down to connect W.Va. to the rest of the east coast, stated Wriston. “The speed of which they are moving is incredible,” continued Senator Capito, adding that construction continues 24 hours per day in some areas. “We’ve accelerated the timeline and someday we will see the completion of Corridor H,” she assured.
“The only reason this is happening is because of Senator Capito and Governor Justice,” stated White. “Their vision of gathering of money on both sides is the only reason the highway is getting built,” he added.
After the news briefing, the Senator took the time to visit with local DOH employees, City of Parsons Mayor Dorothy Judy and City Administrator Jason Myers, and Tucker County Commission President Lowell Moore. Tucker County DOH Supervisor Dennis Roth is looking forward to the completion of Corridor H throughout the county for many reasons, but especially safety. He expects the highway to result in less county traffic, safer travel especially for tractor trailers traveling Backbone Mountain, which will in turn lead to less needed county road maintenance. “It’s going to really boost the economy I think,” he added.
Mayor Judy commented, “We can’t wait for it to get done. We expect it to bring good things to Parsons.” With the new Parsons Industrial Park project underway, it is hopeful the highway will bring in businesses that will be interested in calling the new park home. “We’re looking for good things to happen,” she concluded.
Commissioner Moore worked 32 years for the DOH prior to serving as a commissioner for the past 10 years. “For me, Corridor H is crucial to complete,” he began. “It connects the whole east coast together and will allow for economic growth for Tucker County.” Moore continued, “There are 14 miles of hazardous roads between Davis and Parsons that puts our first responders at a disadvantage. This highway is going to allow them to respond to emergencies quicker and it’s going to be better for everybody.”
The goal to complete this span of highway currently states the opening date of late 2021.