Upshur leaders push for completion of Corridor H

Tourism leaders in Upshur County will join with those pushing for the completion of Corridor H at a special get-together Friday at the state capitol.

Laura Meadows, the executive director of the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said during that organization’s meeting Wednesday that a booth will be set up during the legislative session to highlight the importance of completing the four-lane highway that connects Interstate 79 in Weston to another four-lane road in Front Royal, Va. She said each of the seven counties in which the proposed route will travel will set up as part of Corridor H Day.

“We will be constructing Corridor H between the House and the Senate,” said Steve Foster, the executive director of the Upshur County Development Authority. “But there will be a big hole in the middle under the dome which represents that section from Kerens to Davis which is not done.”

The CVB will also be joined by leaders from West Virginia Wesleyan College and the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce.

“Corridor H is the single greatest economic incentive for this area,” Foster said. “We continually try to squeak so we can get some oil.”

The CVB display will include testimonials from local business owners, one of whom says the completion of the road would save his business as much as $1 million annually in transportation costs.

The group plans to meet with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin around 10 a.m. to press upon him the need for the roadway.

“We would like Corridor H to be established as the No. 1 priority for highways,” Foster said. “I am amazed by how many people in the southern part of West Virginia have no idea what Corridor H is and what it would mean to West Virginia.”

The history of Corridor H began in 1965 with the passing of the Appalachian Regional Development Act, which called for the building of 23 of highways and parkways throughout Appalachia. Five of those corridors would pass through West Virginia. Four of those corridors have already been completed Corridor D, which followed U.S. 50 from Cincinnati to Interstate 79 in Bridgeport; Corridor E, which is now I-68 from Morgantown to Hancock, Md.; Corridor G, which is U.S. 119 from Charleston to Pikeville, Ky.; Corridor L, which is U.S. 19 from Beckley to Sutton; and Corridor Q, which runs from Christiansburg, Va., to Pikeville, Ky., following U.S. 52, 19 and 480 through southern West Virginia.

Corridor H, which originally sought to connect I-79 in Weston to I-81 near Strasburg, Va., has been the most controversial of the Appalachian corridors, and its development has seen as many twists and turns as the mountainous roads it is proposed to replace.

Construction began in 1974 near Weston, and designers had two proposed routes. The route would follow U.S. 33 to Seneca Rocks and then either cross the Shenandoah Mountains to New Market, Va., or go toward Moorefield and into Strasburg, Va., by following Route 55.