Disclaimer: this document is not speaking for Davis’ Corridor H Committee. I reiterate my earlier position: DOH should be required to newly consider a Corridor H, northern alignment. Reasons: read on.
During a recent town council meeting attended by citizens of both Davis and Thomas, DOH representative Travis Long appeared and indicated DOH is proceeding with the ROPA based upon the 2003 letter of endorsement from the then Davis Town Council. He indicated no other route is being considered. He failed to consider–DOH’s rationale of using Davis’ 2003 letter of endorsement is no longer valid.
For reference, let me include this portion of the Davis’ 2003 letter to DOH:
“NOW THEREFORE. BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE TOWN OF DAVIS, TUCKER COUNTY. WEST VIRGINIA THAT THE RIVISED ORIGINAL PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE (OPA) WITH THE TRUCK ROUTE (TR) OPTION IS THE MOST COST EFFICIENT AND FEASIBLE ROUTE AND THEREFORE IS THE ROUTE WE HEREBY SUPPORT WHOLE HEARTEDLY. ADOPTED: September 10, 2003”
Something significant has changed and other than a recent Letter to the Editor in the Advocate, few have seemed to have noticed.
Davis supported a ROPA that ran from the current 4-lane east of Davis to an interchange on the south, Elkins side, of Parsons. But, the Parsons’ interchange has now been moved to the north, St. George side, of Parsons. The current ROPA is not the ROPA the Davis Town Council endorsed! Davis’ 2003 endorsement is no longer valid in supporting DOH’s opinion the ROPA is “…the most cost efficient and feasible route.” From the current Parsons’ interchange a northern route, as in the 1-D east alignment, is clearly shorter and more direct.
Travis used a recent diesel spill on 219 to bolster the dangers of building a highway over a town’s water supply, yet that is precisely what DOH has proposed doing for Wardensville and has done in countless other communities. As DOH explained, with a proper highway design, concerns about a highway affecting a town’s water supply are unfounded.
In summary Davis has not endorsed the ROPA as it currently exists and should make that clear to DOH. A northern alignment is shorter and does not divide the towns of Davis and Thomas. It further requires no expensive, multi-turn, truck route around Thomas and removes the need for a 175-foot-tall bridge over the Coke Ovens that Travis suggested is now even longer (and more expensive.) This northern alignment is supported by a preponderance of local businesses, citizens, and the Tucker County Chamber of Commerce–in 2023, not 2003!
Davis or some other entity or entities should communicate promptly and legally with DOH and advise them–when DOH moved the Parsons’ interchange, that change rendered Davis’ original ROPA endorsement null and void. DOH should have requested a new endorsement based on the route having been changed. As DOH did not request a new endorsement, planning and construction related to the current ROPA–without the required community endorsement–should cease. DOH should immediately proceed with an honest investigation of what may now constitute a new, locally supported “preferred–northern–route.”
Reflecting the views of a recent letter, I am not adamantly advocating–GO NORTH; rather suggesting DOH be required to consider that alternate in light of 2023 realities and sensibilities. Travis indicated DOH might have an SEIS available in 2024. This NEPA mandated Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement was created to qualify design choices. The SEIS function is not to explain or justify what you have already done! If, as Travis has said, DOH is proceeding with the ROPA, a 2024 SEIS is pointless and superfluous.
This area has grown and matured: this is not the Davis and Thomas of 20 years ago. Today’s decisions should reflect today’s realities and priorities.
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