A $12 million federal grant will advance construction of a portion of the long-delayed Appalachian Corridor H highway through several small mountain towns and scenic areas of West Virginia.
Gov. Jim Justice and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito have announced the $12 million funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. It will help pay for a 6.2-mi.-long section of U.S. Route 48 in Tucker County.
Justice approved nearly $176 million for the project last year. It is the second of five phases of work on the four-lane highway from Kerens northeast to Parsons. The work includes designing, grading and draining about 4 mi. from the U.S. Route 219 connector to the state Route 72 interchange.
Corridor H is one of six divided, four-lane roads authorized for construction in West Virginia by the Appalachian Regional Commission back in 1965. It is the only corridor yet to be completed — in the state or in the nation. Initial construction began from the western terminus of the route — Interstate 79 at Weston — in 1974. The entire corridor is 130 mi. in length halfway across the state to the Virginia border in the east.
Proponents say it would open the rural region to economic development.
Other sections of Corridor H are still in the planning stages, including the 10-mi.-long Parsons to Davis portion of the new highway.
While personnel from the West Virginia Division of Highways and the Federal Highway Administration have begun coordinating with regulatory agencies to begin updating needed environmental and engineering studies for the Parsons-Davis stretch of U.S. 48, completion of that project remains distant.
Final design for the missing link in the freeway is not expected to be completed until 2025, with construction tentatively scheduled to begin in 2031, followed by completion in 2036.
In 2008, work on the Parsons-Davis segment was put on hold while construction focused on the eastern end of Corridor H, which, by 2016, was complete from Wardensville, in Hardy County, to Davis.
The Parsons-Davis link would parallel and crisscross U.S. 219 east of Parsons, provide a new access road to Tucker County High School, cross Blackwater Canyon via a new bridge, pass just south of Thomas and connect with the completed eastern section of the corridor just northeast of Davis. The project also will include a new bypass to keep trucks heading north on U.S. 219 out of Thomas.
The remaining West Virginia Appalachian Corridor link yet to reach the final design stage is the 6.8 mi. segment between Wardensville and the Virginia border. Design work was scheduled to begin this year, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, with construction to start in 2027. Plans called for the corridor to end near Strasburg, Va., where it would link with Interstates 81 and 66.
To date, though, Virginia has announced no plans to build its section of Corridor H.