The route is Corridor H, intended to link Interstates 79 and 81 (New York Times map) and give West Virginia a direct route to the east coast over the Allegheny Mountains. It has faced huge engineering and environmental challenges and consumed $1.5 billion in a series of contracts, some for a route that was later abandoned (US 33 east of Elkins). "It's not projected to be complete until 2035," and unless Virginia relents would end 10 miles west of the state line, report Drew Griffin and Steve Turnham of the CNN Special Investigations Unit, which dubbed it "West Virginia's road to nowhere." John Wickline of The Inter-Mountain in Elkins reports that "14 miles of the Corridor are under construction and final environmental and design work has started on another 30 miles." Design on an environmentally sensitive stretch in Tucker County is not slated to begin until 2025, with constrcution in 2031.
The road seemed dead until U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd became chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee in 1990 and started funneling money to it. Virginia decided in 1995 that it would not build the far eastern leg, but money kept flowing. Byrd got $9.5 million in this week's omnibus bill for a section between Davis and Forman. The $21 million in stimulus money will be used for two bridges near the midpoint of the route in Grant County, Wickline reported March 7. He wrote, "The highway has been called one of the 27 worst road projects in the country by critics, who sponsor a Web site and speak out online at http://www.taxpayers.net/." (Read more)