Local economic leaders from a seven-county region gathered in Charleston Friday to lobby for the completion of Corridor H - and garnered pledges of support from state lawmakers.
The Corridor H Authority, a group that advocates for the completion of the highway by the year 2020, set up a lifelike model of the 130-mile highway in the State Capitol Rotunda so legislators could actually see what has - and hasn't - been completed on the road, which begins at the intersection of Interstate 79 and U.S. Route 33 near Weston and will end at the junction of Interstates 81 and 66 in Front Royal, Va.
The seven counties through which Corridor H coils include Upshur, Lewis, Randolph, Tucker, Barbour, Grant and Hardy.
The Corridor H Authority presented a ‘stage version’ of Corridor H on Friday in the West Virginia State Capitol Rotunda. The ‘highway’ connected the House of Delegates and Senate chambers, winding its way around the rotunda’s well in a manner marking the geographical east-west path the highway takes from I-79 at Weston to the Virginia state line. Steve Foster, chair of Corridor H Authority and Robbie Morris, Randolph County Development Authority executive director, stand at the display's marker that highlights the sections of Corridor H yet to be finalized.
Those counties and their respective industries and tourist landmarks were represented along a "road" of rubber mats that extended from the steps of the House of Delegates to the steps of the Senate Chamber, said Robbie Morris, executive director of the Randolph County Development Authority.
"I thought today was very beneficial for the promotion of Corridor H and all the counties along the corridor," Morris said Friday.
"It gave the legislators a perspective of how much of this road is complete and showed them the middle section is not complete and we need to get it done.
"I'm a visual person, so I think it really had an impact," Morris added.
Steve Foster, executive director of the Upshur County Development Authority and chair of the Corridor H Authority, said the group left with a Senate resolution in support of finishing the highway and a pledge from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin that he was "fully on board" with the Corridor H Authority's agenda.
"They (the legislators) thought it was very creative," Foster said. "It shows that there's this big hole in the middle of the road. We had this big 25-mile hole and a statue of (the late Sen.) Robert Byrd pointing to the hole.
We accomplished what we were trying to do," he added.
Sometimes people in the southern part of the state don't realize what Corridor H can do for the entire state."