MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s national representatives are promoting a new exit on Interstate 79 near Morgantown.

The proposed Harmony Grove Interchange would be located between the Interstate 68 exit and the Westover exit on I-79 and would provide better access to the Morgantown Industrial Park and businesses in that area.

According to a release from Congressman David McKinley, he and Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, asking him to approve the Interchange Justification Report for the new exit “as quickly as possible.”

In the letter, the representatives said that the added interchange would expand the highway’s truck capacity to allow for more development in the area.

“For too long, West Virginia has ranked last in the country due to aging roads and bridges, which has hurt our ability to be competitive in attracting new businesses, good jobs and more opportunity to the state,” said Rep. McKinley. “The Harmony Grove Interchange is one example of how West Virginia can move forward and support new and expanding businesses and strengthen future economic development.”

Currently, trucks traveling to the Morgantown Industrial Park take either the Westover exit off I-79 or the University Avenue exit off I-68. Both of these routes go through town, which makes them not ideal for bigger trucks.

Harmony Grove area (Screenshot: Google Earth)

“Morgantown and other communities along the I-79 corridor have seen significant growth in past years. The Harmony Grove Interchange is necessary to facilitate more economic expansion and meet truck and passenger vehicle capacity needs,” said Senator Capito.

County Route 45 or River Road, which goes through Harmony Grove, crosses over I-79 by bridge, but there is no way to exchange roads without detouring through town.

“In order to ensure West Virginia’s continued economic growth and job creation, we must regularly upgrade and improve infrastructure across the state … With increased traffic and investment at the site, the proposed Harmony Grove Interchange is great news for Morgantown and the region, and will bolster transportation and economic activity across the entire state,” said Senator Manchin.

If the exit was added, the Morgantown Industrial Park would have direct access by rail, barge, and highway, a transportation trifecta that would “bridge further economic prosperity to the area,” according to the letter.

New development along where the exit would be (WBOY image)

On Thursday, after the trio of lawmakers sent a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Senator Capito questioned him further as part of a hearing for the Department of Transportation budget. You can watch the full video below.

Capito Questions Secretary Buttigieg on Transportation Department Priorities