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Development of West Virginia’s Appalachian Corridor highways began in 1965, when U.S. Sen. Jennings Randolph helped to create the Appalachian Regional Commission. The Appalachian Development Highway System was created under the Appalachian Regional Commission to attract industry and diversify the economic base by building good roads throughout the previously isolated region. Originally including 23 individual corridors designated alphabetically from A to W, the 3,285-mile system was designed to link the Interstate highways of the 13 Appalachian states. West Virginia’s 424-mile system included six routes, designated D, E, G, H, L, and Q.

Corridor D (U.S. 50) was designated as an 82-mile four-lane highway from Ohio to I-77 at Parkersburg and on to I-79 at Clarksburg. Seventy-two miles of the highway were built from Parkersburg to Clarksburg by the late 1970s. After sufficient funding was secured, a bridge over the Ohio was completed and opened to traffic June 13, 2008. The bridge spans historic Blennerhassett Island though there is no access to the island from the highway. The bridge completed construction of Corridor D.

Corridor E, completed in the late 1970s as U.S. 48 and redesignated in 1992 as Interstate 68, is a 32-mile link from I-79 near Morgantown eastward to I-70 near Hancock, Maryland.

Corridor G (U.S. 119) is a 79-mile route linking Kentucky near Williamson with I-64 at Charleston. Corridor G is also known as the Robert C. Byrd Freeway, because Byrd helped to secure a major part of the funding for it and other corridors. West Virginia’s portion of the highway was complete by the 1990s.

Corridor H is the only corridor highway that remains incomplete. It begins at I-79 at Weston and will end Strasburg, Virginia, at Interstate 81 when complete. The building of Corridor H has been controversial, arousing strong passions for and against. Decades of public debate and legal battles aired the essential question of whether previously isolated areas should be preserved or opened to development. Despite the controversy, about 75 percent of the highway had been completed as of 2023. The highway is open from the Weston exit of I-79 to Kerens, Randolph County, a distance of about 41 miles. A segment of approximately 66 miles from Davis to Wardensville in Hardy County is also open to traffic. On June 9, 2023, state officials broke ground on a new three-mile segment between Kerens and Parsons, with an expected completion date of 2025. The segment from Wardensville to the Virginia state line is not expected to begin construction until 2027. In April 2024, the Blackwater River was named the 10th most-endangered river in the United States by American Rivers due to potential environmental damage from the construction of Corridor H through Tucker County.

Corridor L (U.S. 19) is a 70-mile link between I-77 near Beckley and I-79 near Sutton. Including the spectacular New River Gorge Bridge, the road was completed in the 1970s with four lanes only from U.S. 60 south. Continuing increases in traffic resulted in upgrading the remainder to four lanes, with the final segments from Summersville northward completed at the end of the 1990s.

Corridor Q (U.S. 460), a 27-mile route through Mercer County completed in the 1970s, connects via the Virginia portion of U.S. 460 to I-81.

This Article was written by Carol Melling

Last Revised on April 16, 2024

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Cite This Article

Melling, Carol "Appalachian Corridor Highways." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 16 April 2024. Web. 15 June 2024.


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