THOMAS, W.Va. (WBOY) — A group of local businesses, organizations and community members concerned about the route of Corridor H hosted a fundraising event at The Purple Fiddle in Thomas on Thursday.
Groups like the Friends of Blackwater are concerned the sight and noise of the highway, if built, would drastically impact the surrounding area, which includes Blackwater Falls State Park, the Monongahela National Forest and the Blackwater Industrial Complex.
Admission was free and open to the public. Organizers said all the proceeds from the event will benefit initiatives to support a northern route for Corridor H. Maps and other information regarding Corridor H were available for those in attendance.
“I think the highway department is obligated to study this, partly because so many years have passed since they made their original decision about this,” said Hugh Rogers, President of Corridor H Alternatives. “The economy is changing very fast here, now. And I would have to say, with the part of the corridor that is already been built that’s feeding into Davis that has definitely helped tourism, tourist traffic, people can get here in a much shorter time and easier than they used to. And that has really changed the economy around here. And the design that they [DOH] are following is a design that hopes to bring in, I don’t know—big box stores or something like that. They’re not basing it on the economy as it exists, and as we project will continue to flourish around here. So, we think the Go North alternative will take care of through traffic and the people who realize that this is a true destination, they want to come here, they’ll have no trouble exiting, and they’ll find it unspoiled.”
More than 2,000 people have signed a Change.org petition in support of what the group considers a better route for Corridor H. That’s more than the population of Davis and Thomas combined. Organizers also stated many locals and business owners also have signed petitions in favor of a northern route.
“We were very shocked when the DOH came out with a plan to go between the two towns [Davis and Thomas] with what they call preferred route when they had planned several other routes that avoided that,” said Judy Rodd, Director of the Friends of the Blackwater. “They don’t have a plan for [big] trucks to go North. The one they have could really be bad for Thomas because it skirts the top of Thomas and goes right near the school and the library, so you have another problem there. And they are going right over a historic district down the river from Thomas and that is illegal. So, the local business people are very upset.”
Guidance was also discussed for those who are concerned and want to submit public comments to the West Virginia Department of Highways. The deadline to submit comments to the DOH is Dec. 12.
Mr. Travis Long, Director
Technical Support Division
West Virginia Division of Highways
1334 Smith Street
Charleston, West Virginia 25301