DAVIS, W.Va. (WBOY) — Although many residents and environmentalist were thrilled when the West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) announced that the Corridor H impact study will be updated to include an alternate route, the Highway Authority said the study is just taking up time.

According to a Sept. 7 release from the Robert C. Byrd Corridor H Highway Authority, the authority is “disappointed” that the DOH is considering a route which it says has less environmental impact.

In the release, Chairman Robbie Morris said that the additional studies will not change anything and will only delay the completion of Corridor H. Once finished Corridor H will connect I-79 in Weston, W.Va. with I-81 near Front Royal, Va.

“Further study of the northern route alternative will only delay construction and completion of Corridor H,” Morris said. “We also suspect that additional study will confirm what all prior due diligence, analysis and study has revealed.”

Morris referred to the now outdated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from 2007. The WVDOH and Federal Highway Administration will now conduct an updated EIS that will also include the Northern Route. Morris said that the results will not change, and when comparing it to the Revised Original Preferred Alignment (ROPA), the Northern Route:

  • Is longer
  • Has far more severe environmental impacts
  • Will require more bridges and crossings of Route 219
  • Will adversely impact Thomas City Park

Supporters of the Northern Route say that it would prevent light and noise pollution in the towns of Davis and Thomas and tourist spots like Douglas Falls and Blackwater Falls State Park.

In a previous release from the Go North Corridor H Alliance, Thomas business owner and northern route supporter Linda Reeves said, “We only get one chance at this, and it needs to be a win-win for all of us.”

Morris said that he hopes the “team at the West Virginia Department of Transportation to proceed as expeditiously as possible.” He concluded, “We look forward to seeing the results.”

The new EIS is expected to be completed and published later this year, and the Corridor H project is expected to be completed by 2034.

Since this story was first published, the WVDOH said in a press release that “does not believe the current evaluations will cause delays in getting the project under construction.” The DOH also said that although it “believes the ROPA alignment for Corridor H is the best route with the least negative impact on local communities,” it will submit all the requirements to the Federal High Administration, who is conducting the study, and request that the Notice of Intent be expedited.