Residents in West Virginia want more input on a four-lane highway slated to cut through the towns of Thomas and Davis, continuing over the Blackwater Canyon Historic Area, after local officials passed a resolution voicing their support for the project.
The state received federal Infrastructure Bill funding to complete the Corridor H Highway, which begins in Tucker County.
Hugh Rogers – chair of the highways committee and board member for the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy – said residents and business owners, who rely on tourism, are concerned about the effect of the highway on wildlife and outdoor recreation.
“They didn’t like the noise impacts,” said Rogers, “the lights, the impacts to the upper Blackwater Canyon area, the historic site that’s there, all the trails. “
More than five thousand residents have signed a petition calling for a better route.
The state argues the project will open up remote areas in Grant, Tucker and Hardy counties to economic development – and boost travel between West Virginia, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Rogers noted that the Corridor H project is mostly funded with federal money, and so requires an Environmental Impact Statement.
He said that process offers an opportunity for communities to re-examine how a four-lane highway will impact endangered species.
“They have to comply with federal law,” said Rogers. “The rules say that if you don’t build something within three years of your EIS, then you have to look again because conditions might have changed.”
According to federal data, more than two million visitors to national parks in West Virginia spent $108 million in the state in 2021.