DAVIS – More than 100 laborers, working to finish Corridor H to Davis, took time from their work Wednesday to gather with Robert C. Byrd Corridor H Highway Authority members for a thank you luncheon. The celebration took place on the Corridor, just shy of the Tucker-Grant county line on W.Va. Route 93.
Robbie Morris, president of the Robert C. Byrd Corridor H Highway Authority, said the group wanted to show their appreciation for all of the hard work and effort going into completing Corridor H from Scherr to Davis.
“We also want to bring awareness to the community throughout the Corridor H region, the state, Washington, D.C. and everywhere that construction is still ongoing and we are making progress,” Morris said. “But today is really just about the workers. It is Labor Day week and we want to show our appreciation.”
Morris said Corridor H is going to have a tremendous impact on the area.
“Too often, the people who actually work on the road and make it become a reality are forgotten,” Morris said. “We wanted to insure that this doesn’t happen. We want to feed them a good meal and tell them thank you and keep up the good work.”
Morris said things are going well, and the weather is being more cooperative this summer.
“We have been able to play catch up a little bit,” Morris said. “Once this section is done in the next year, we can start on the Kerens to Parsons stretch.”
Morris said Corridor H will cause the section of Tucker and Grant counties to open up.
“There will be increased tourism because of the ease to reach Canaan Valley and Timberline,” Morris said. “The Tucker County Development Authority has an industrial park along the Corridor which allows ease to reach Eastern markets.”
Morris said Corridor H will make travel easier, safer and cheaper.
Curtis Wilkerson, from Orion Strategies, said the event was slated to help celebrate Labor Day and thank those working hard to complete Corridor H.
“We knew Monday was Labor Day and all of the guys would have the day off, so we looked for the next best weather day and that was today,” Wilkerson said. “We hope to have 125 construction workers from three different companies join us today. This is just a ‘thanks for doing this’ and we haven’t forgotten about you celebration.”
Wilkerson said the luncheon included brats and burgers, offering workers the opportunity to eat, relax and enjoy themselves.
“Parts of this section of Corridor H are projected to be opened in the fall,” Wilkerson said. “The entire area into Davis is projected to be open by early next year. They are talking about putting the next section from Kerens to Parsons out to bid. If they do that, it will be three years ahead of schedule.”
Wilkerson said part of the reason the Corridor is moving along is legislation was passed two years ago which allows public partnerships for finance.
“That was smart,” Wilkerson said. “Very large contractors provide the financing and oversight of the project. The beauty is, the interest payments cost less than the cost of inflation.”
Wilkerson said the completion of the roadway will open the area to the Virginia Inland Port and will allow travel from Weston, W.Va. to Washington, D.C. in a mere few hours travel time.
“If Corridor H is completed by 2020 instead of 2035, that will have a $2 billion impact,” Wilkerson said. “Once it is completed, it is estimated it will create approximately 88,000 jobs in Appalachia.
Tucker County Commissioner Lowell Moore said he is glad to see Corridor H being completed.
“It’s been a long time reaching Tucker County, and they are making great progress,” Moore said. “This will be much safer for the public and it will bring great economic growth to our community. I want to commend the workers for their hard work.”
Diane Hinkle, Tucker County Commissioner, said Corridor H is a wonderful opportunity for the county.
“Some people view it as a challenging time because it will bring change to the mountain,” Hinkle said. “We have folks who need jobs, we have visitors who want to come to our area for recreation, and Corridor H will make it easier and safer. It’s about time to get it done. The workers here are doing a great job. They are out there all times of the day and night, seven days a week. Our hats off to them.”