Published September 2002 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Corridor Highways: Roads to Progress
In 1965, the Appalachian Regional Commission crafted a plan to build a network of roads to link interstate highways and to bring economic opportunities into the hills and hollows of the Appalachian states. I supported the creation of the Appalachian Regional Commission, I supported the creation of the Appalachian Corridor Highway System, and I have supported, and added hundreds of millions of dollars to, appropriations bills in order to promote the completion of that system of Appalachian highways.
Recently, Governor Bob Wise and I dedicated the latest sections of the Corridor system, opening the first miles of Corridor H east of Elkins. These miles in Randolph County and in Hardy County represent the first progress on Corridor H since 1990, and they bring West Virginia that much closer to an integrated system of safe, modern roads.
In 1947, when I served in the West Virginia House of Delegates, there were only four miles of divided four-lane highway throughout the entire state, and even these did not show up on a West Virginia road map. A Saturday Evening Post story in 1960 stated that West Virginia's highway system was "decades behind that of its neighbors." Those words were seared into my memory, and I have made it a mission of mine to obtain funding to improve West Virginia's transportation network.
With the eight new miles of Corridor H, there are now more than 1,000 miles of divided four-lane highway throughout West Virginia. These new miles represent not just safety and efficiency. They are not just concrete ribbons connecting community to community. This road and highways like it are also seeds which feed prosperity and nourish a better life for all West Virginians. They provide jobs, link rural communities to hospitals and clinics, and promote tourism.
Much work is still to be done to complete the Corridor Highway system in West Virginia. The Corridor D bypass in Wood County is still under construction, and Corridor H will not be completed until 2010. But we are making progress.
I look forward to the completion of each mile of these roads because they provide a safer, more modern route for the West Virginians who live along it and for visitors who come to discover the beautiful scenery of our state. But also, and more personally, I look forward to their advancement because, upon completion, they will connect the nation to the heart of our state with four-lane roads that travel through -- not around -West Virginia.
September 4, 2002