Speaker urges early Corridor H completion

ELKINS – Finishing Corridor H by 2020 would generate $1.25 billion in new revenue for the state, a guest speaker told Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce members Wednesday.

Curtis Wilkerson of Orion Strategies shared findings from an economic impact study sponsored by the Corridor H Authority, and talked about the recent changes in policy and politics in Virginia regarding Corridor H.

“Completion of Corridor H in 2020, instead of the proposed 2036 end date, would generate $1.25 billion in new revenue to the state of West Virginia,” Wilkerson said. “Currently, 75 percent of Corridor H is either open or under construction, and 87 percent of the highway is expected to be complete over the next several years,” Wilkerson said.

“In West Virginia, people are wondering why Virginia has not completed their part of Corridor H,” he said. “West Virginia has 90 percent of the road. Why don’t you build your 90 percent and I will show you my 10 percent.”

In addition to increasing travel safety and allowing easier access to and from Eastern West Virginia’s tourist destinations, Corridor H will offer an uninterrupted link from West Virginia to the Inland Port in Front Royal, Va.

“The Virginia Inland Port allows containerization through the largest, deepest port on Eastern United States,” Wilkerson said.

From the Inland Port, double-stacked rail containers can make their way to the Port of Norfolk. “The link will dramatically increase West Virginia export potential,” Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson said once Corridor H is finished it will put the Virginia Inland Port within three and a half hours access to Parkersburg and Charleston.

“A survey completed in 2008 found if we completed the Appalachian Highway System, it would create 80,500 jobs,” Wilkerson said. “I don’t think anyone has a problem with that.”

The Randolph County Development Authority sponsored Wednesday’s meeting. Director Robbie Morris said the RCDA was pleased to support the event.

“Getting an update today on the progress of Corridor H here in Randolph County is very important,” Morris said. “I have talked to people who think there is nothing going on with Corridor H because they have not seen the progress directly.”

Morris said much of the construction of Corridor H has been done in pieces.

“A tremendous amount of work has been completed in Grant and Tucker counties,” Morris said. “I think it is great for this area to hear of the construction and plans into the future.”

Morris said Randolph County is next on the list to resume construction.

“The impact of Corridor H cannot be overstated,” Morris said.

During the meeting, Morris also unveiled a video created by the RCDA featuring Randolph County businesses and opportunities meant to showcase the area.

The next Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce meeting is slated for May 14.