Route 2 and I-68 Highway Authority takes their case to D.C. officials
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Officials of the Route 2 and I-68 Highway Authority took their case to the nation’s capital last week, speaking to West Virginia’s federal delegation about the need to extend I-68 to the Ohio River and complete the expansion of Route 2 into a four-lane highway.
“West Virginia decides which roads to build, but it’s Washington that funds the massive matching dollars that fund our highways,” said Route 2 and I-68 Highway Authority Executive Director Charlie Clements.
“The overwhelming increase in business due to the natural gas industry has to make West Virginia look at investing where growth is taking place — and that is along the Ohio River and the counties between there and I-68,” Clements said.
Both U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., personally met with the organization and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., ensured that the authority also briefed his lead transportation staff.
“Transportation needs change with new economic developments,” said Clements. “We live in a state who’s mantra for too long has been a build it and they will come when we need to be looking at how to build highways that support what has already arrived.”
Representatives from multiple counties traveled to Washington, D.C., to explain the importance of these crucial highways and provide information on each project — including maps, backgrounds, histories and overviews of the major companies that will be impacted. They included business owners, community planners and municipal leaders. The efforts of the Authority augment the public discussions and education efforts of the organization over the last 18 months.
West Virginia Route 2 is a state highway that generally parallels the Ohio River along the western border of the state from Parkersburg to Chester and is primarily a two-lane highway with brief four-lane sections in Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Pleasants and Wood counties. These brief sections are short improvements to the roadway in accordance with efforts to widen W.Va. 2 from two lanes to a four-lane highway. The longest four-lane section along W.Va. 2 is a 24-mile stretch from I-70 south into Marshall County.
Interstate 68 is a 112.9-mile highway in the states of West Virginia and Maryland. It connects Interstate 79 in Morgantown to Interstate 70 in Hancock, Md. Interstate 68 is “Corridor E” of the Appalachian Development Highway System. The 73 miles of roadway will be added to the existing National Highway System and become eligible for federal funding when such money becomes available.