Tucker Planning Commission hears from WVDOT

An official from the West Virginia Department of Highways spoke to the Tucker County Planning Commission this week about the status of Corridor H.

Marvin G. Murphy, assistant deputy secretary for the WVDOH, told commissioners at Monday’s meeting many issues surround the Corridor H project, but money is the factor driving everything else.

Federal funding, beginning in 2009, dropped to $36 million for the project, he said. This is down from previous years’ funding of approximately $80 million.

“We want to live up to our commitments,” Murphy said, but funding for the Corridor is seeing its ups and downs.

In addition to the $36 million, a slideshow used by Murphy displayed a figure of $9 million in state matching funds – resulting in a total of $45 for the project. However, the estimated cost of more than $830 million means that, at the current rate of funding, completion of the project will take an additional 18.5 years.

Some sections of the Corridor have been completed, Murphy said. Interstate Highway 79, from Weston to Kerens, and the West Virginia 93 Connector to Wardensville are both open to traffic. Together, they total 87.1 miles of tarmac.

The slideshow also listed sections that are currently under construction. A stretch of road from Davis to Bismark may be completed by the fall of 2014. J.F. Allen Co. is working on a 10-mile section and Trumbull Corp. is working on a 6.2-mile section of that stretch. Murphy said the WVDOH is pushing for a completion date of Fall 2014.

An additional stretch from Bismark to West Virginia 93 is also being built. Murphy said it is slated for completion this fall.

Other sections, such as the sections from Kerens to Parsons, Parsons to Davis and Wardensville to the Virginia state line are still under negotiation.

Murphy said the Kerens to Parsons segment may take more than nine years to complete, once construction has begun. He said the WVDOH is currently in talks with officials at the Monongahela National Forest to identify stream habitat improvement areas and to protect endangered plant species.

Murphy said the WVDOH will be working with National Forest officials throughout the process of planning and construction.

The West Virginia northern flying squirrel is an important consideration for the Parsons-to -Davis Segment, he said.

Finally, Murphy said the Wardensville to Virginia state line segment is being held back because of a number of factors.

Murphy said Virginia Department of Transportation officials need to approve construction of the Corridor in Virginia.

There also needs to be an acceptable level of service in West Virginia, he said. This means that expected road congestion on the segment must not exceed a certain threshold in order for construction to take place.

He also said that a loss of federal funding may occur once construction is under consideration.

Contact Casey Houser by email at chouser@theintermountain.com.