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Corridor H Authority pushes for 2020 finish

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Members of the Robert C. Byrd Corridor H Highway Authority hope the results of a new economic impact study will be powerful enough to move the completion date of Corridor H from 2036 to 2020.

According to the study, an early completion would generate $1.25 billion in new revenue to the state. In addition to the base economic impact, the study found construction of the highway would add another $800 million to the state's economy.

Members of the authority hosted three news conferences to unveil the details of the study Oct. 21, starting in Buckhannon, then meeting in Charleston and finally in Winchester, Va.

West Virginia is home to 90 percent of Corridor H, running from Interstate 79 in Weston to the Virginia border. The highway is 75 percent complete or under construction in the state, and the next section of highway, which is scheduled for construction in 2014, will make the highway 87 percent complete. The next scheduled section will connect with Interstate 81 and Interstate 66 at Strasburg, Va.

The study was conducted by RQA Group and modeled after similar studies executed on behalf of highways throughout the 13-state Appalachian Regional Commission region. The study measures projected economic growth, savings on insurance and other safety-related costs as well as expenses and travel time-related savings that affect travelers.

"We felt it was important to see hard data that shows just what we could miss out on if we don't get this highway completed," Corridor H Authority Chairman Steve Foster said. "Throw in the $800 million we could save on construction costs, and I think people can see why finishing this now makes sense."