Work started Monday on one of the final sections of Corridor H.
The Corridor H Authority hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to signify the start of construction of nearly a 20 mile section of highway linking Davis, W.Va. with Scherr, W.Va.
The groundbreaking was designed to spotlight major progress made towards completion. Other than the Davis to Scherr link, three short sections of highway are left to be built. Officials said they now believe they're heading toward the home stretch.
"What's fun is when you get to talk to people about the fact, 'Where's the exit ramp going to go so I can put my business here or my investment there?' It's really happening. We're going to get this Corridor H built," said chairman Steve Foster of Corridor H Authority.
Construction on one of those final three sections from Parsons to Davis is tentatively scheduled to start within the next two years, putting the projected construction three years ahead of its previous schedule.
"We're going to do an economic study and it says if we build this road 14 years ahead of completion what does that mean in dollars and cents to this whole section of where Corridor H goes through and also the state of West Virginia," Foster said.
County and state leaders said the future economic success is tied to the completion of Corridor H.
"We have an industrial park up here that the Corridor is coming to, and the lower end Parsons, and that whole area. It's going to open up the whole area, I look at the area around Buckhannon, and I see what the Corridor has done to that area, and we're hoping for the same growth in Tucker County," said Mike Rosenau, president of Tucker County Commission.
A completed Corridor H will tie the state to the inland port in Front Royal, Va. From that inland port, double-stacked rail containers can make their way to the Port of Norfolk, one of the world's busiest and deepest ports. The link will dramatically increase the state's export potential.
Officials said with the start of this new section of highway, 75 percent of Corridor H will be completed or under construction by the end of this year.
The United States Surface Transportation Bill passed last year adjusted the portion of matching federal funds from 80 percent to 100 percent share through 2021. This news means Corridor H can be done by 2020 like officials are hoping for.