New economic impact study planned for entire Appalachian Corridor System


With its goal of helping more than a billion dollars in potential economic development into a reality, a new economic impact study of the entire Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) is getting support from West Virginia.

The Appalachian Regional Commission is working on an economic impact study of the entire Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS). The ADHS includes Corridor H in West Virginia, as well as the completed highways of Route 19 through Summersville (Corridor L), Route 50 (Corridor D), I-68 (Corridor E), Corridor G from Charleston to Pikeville and Corridor Q connecting Monroe County to Virginia.

“This new economic study will look at the impact of the highways themselves,” said Robbie Morris, president of the Corridor H Authority. “Aside from the obvious economic benefits of the construction, there is lost opportunity for every year that the system is not complete.”

The Robert C. Byrd Corridor H Authority praised the ARC for the study.

The economic impact study comes 50 years after the Appalachian system was started. The ADHS was conceived as a way to connect land within the rugged mountainous area stretching from New York to Alabama to the nation’s interstate highway system. Planned as a 3,090-mile network of four-lane roads, more than 2,500 miles are complete, with many more under construction.

“Eighteen months ago, the Corridor H Authority commissioned an economic impact study that found our region will lose $1.25 billion if we do not complete Corridor H by 2020 – instead of the currently expected 2036. We are proud to have worked with the ARC to have them incorporate these same lost-opportunity economics in this study,” said Morris.

Corridor H is the last highway of the ADHS in West Virginia to be complete. Seventy-six percent of the highway is either finished or under construction. West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced earlier this month that the next section of the highway would go to bid later this year. The section will begin near the community of Kerens and head northeast toward Parsons. The project will utilize a Public Private Partnership for financing, allowing new construction in West Virginia that may otherwise be hindered by budgetary constraints.

The Appalachian Regional Commission is now taking proposals for what it considers to be a major economic impact study. Proposals are due July 17. More information can be found at: http://www.arc.gov/images/grantsandfunding/contracts/RFP-EconomicAnalysisoftheADHSJune2015.pdf

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