On Monday in the eastern West Virginia mountain town of Davis, the Corridor H Authority hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking for the construction of a 20-mile segment of highway.
The new four lane will further extend the unfinished Corridor H to its objective of connecting Interstate 79 at Weston and Interstate 81 in northern Virginia, creating a vital link to help diversify West Virginia's economic base.
The timetable for when the final section of the long-dreamed of Appalachian Corridor Highway System is complete is still to be determined. The most optimistic forecast, with help from a potential bond issue, is 2020. A more realistic timeline for completion under current funding plans is 2036.
After the Davis-to-Scherr section is complete, there will be three more to go: a five-mile section from Wardensville to the Virginia state line; a section from there to I-81 and a section from near Elkins to Davis.
These have gone slowly for various reasons. Construction of the Elkins-to-Davis section has faced funding issues and was further held up because of its location near environmentally sensitive areas like Blackwater Fall State Park and Canaan Valley.
The Appalachian Regional Commission began development of West Virginia's Appalachian Corridor Highway System in 1965. The purpose was to attract industry and diversify the economic base by building good roads throughout isolated regions of Appalachia.
West Virginia's 424-mile portion of the 13-state system included six routes, designated D, E, G, H, L, and Q.
The West Virginia Division of Highways has great experience in designing highways that enable better transportation while protecting sensitive areas. Corridor H is no exception.
Certainly, extreme care should be taken in environmentally sensitive areas.
And just as certainly, Corridor H should be completed as fast as it can be responsibly funded so that the purpose of the Appalachian Corridor System - attracting industry, enhancing tourism and diversifying the region's economy - can be realized.