PARKERSBURG - As the long-term economic benefits of the completion of the Corridor D highway are still being gauged locally, many officials believe it will still live up to its promise.
It has been over two years since the 4,009-foot Blennerhassett Bridge, which spans the Ohio River over Blennerhassett Island, marked the final piece of Corridor D connecting Wood and Washington counties along U.S. 50.
With the hope of economic development and improved access around the region, area officials believed the bridge across the Ohio River would create new business and travel opportunities for the entire area as well as provide a more direct route to and from the area industrial sites.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
The area next to the Western Sizzlin' near Lubeck has been divided into lots and is available for development. In over two years since Corridor D opened, a lot of available property with access to the completed U.S. 50 highway is being primed for development.
The Western Sizzlin' in Lubeck, a short distance from the bridge, has been one of the early success stories for the access the completed highway provides to people around the area.
Although some locations, including the property surrounding the Western Sizzlin' near Lubeck and other areas along the highway, had been primed for development, publicly there has not been a lot of movement on them since the downturn in the economy occurred.
Cam Huffman, the new executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Authority, said many of those development plans are still in the works.
"It is just many companies are looking to see what the economy does," he said. "Many of those projects are still being worked on."
Area officials spend a lot of time working on building relationships with company representatives so this area remains in their minds when they are ready to move forward on a project, Huffman said. They can come to an area a number of times and check a variety of factors.
The objective for the development of Corridor D over the last few decades was to provide access to major urban centers along the East Coast from points throughout the Midwest while providing opportunities for economic development in northwest West Virginia and southeast Ohio, said officials with the West Virginia Department of Transportation.
The placement of the new West Virginia National Guard Armory, to replace the facility on Blizzard Drive, could spur development as the city of Parkersburg has been looking into a partnership that would also create a new civic center/conference center as part of the new armory site.
There are five possible sites the National Guard is looking at. The two locations that have been made public are the former Luigino's site near the Coldwater Creek facility and Fort Boreman Hill.
The other three sites are private property.
The city of Parkersburg and the Area Roundtable have completed the detailed master plan for utilization of the Fort Boreman property along U.S. 50 and completed a retail study with the Buxton Company to identify retailers would fit the Parkersburg demographics and might be interested in participating in the proposed multi-use development on 180 acres adjacent to the Marrtown Road exit of U.S. 50.
Many officials believe the benefits from the Corridor D's completion will come in time as the highway is now in place and providing access to land which can now be built on.
"Regardless, development takes time," Huffman said. "We are talking about millions of dollars in investments.
"People do not make those kind of decisions overnight."