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September 1, 2013

Delegate: Commercial park ‘most viable option’ for Carpendale

CARPENDALE, W.Va. — State legislators, West Virginia Department of Transportation officials, and state and local economic development officials met Thursday to discuss the proposed Carpendale bridge project, according to Delegate Gary Howell.

“I came away from the meeting with a good feeling that we are moving forward,” said Howell.

During the meeting, Terry Lively, executive director of the Region 8 Planning and Land Development Council, indicated that Region 8 funds would be available for a study on a bridge and on the road networks, according to Howell.

A bridge spanning across the Potomac River from Carpendale to Bowling Green would provide access to 300 acres of CSX property and allow for commercial property to be developed, which in turn would create jobs.

“I got a really positive feeling about the commercial park. It’s the most viable option,” said Howell, who noted that a majority of people at the meeting were in favor of the idea.

The commercial park could contain a box store like Target or Cabela’s, according to Howell.

Once the study is complete, the next step would be to find funding. Howell estimated that the bridge would cost anywhere from $3.5 million to $5 million. Money for the project could possibly come from Industrial Access Funds, which would fund up to 10 percent, as well as the West Virginia Development Office, Mineral County Development Authority, West Virginia Department of Transportation and the remainder could come from a Tax Increment Finance district, Howell said.

Howell said that CSX doesn’t have to pay taxes on the property.

“When the property is sold to a nonrailroad entity, there would be a 100 percent increase in tax revenue,” said Howell. “This type of TIF district is highly unusual, which makes it extremely viable.”  

In attendance at the meeting were State Sen. Don Cookman; David Cramer, DOT economic development; representatives for U.S. Reps. David McKinley and Shelly Moore Capito; Nic Diehl, manager of business and retention at the West Virginia Development Office; Dave Boden, MCDA president; MCDA members Jerry Whisner and Dr. Richard Lechliter; Carpendale Mayor Butch Armentrout; and Ridgeley Mayor Lynn Carr.

Mona Ridder, MCDA executive director, had approached the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority about placing an intermodal facility on the property in Carpendale.

“It needs a 1-mile straight run. I don’t know where that idea came from. Carpendale was never an option for an intermodal facility,” said Howell.

The rail system in Carpendale is not big enough and would have to be upgraded for such a facility, but the rail system in Keyser would be viable, according to Howell. The proposed intermodal facility could be located on roughly 33 acres of CSX property behind Martin’s Food Market in Keyser. The House of Delegates filed a bipartisan resolution requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to study the feasibility of building an intermodal facility at the Keyser rail yard.

“An intermodal facility for shipping between rail and truck and truck and rail will facilitate transfers and create a more seamless transit network,” states the resolution.

The Joint Committee on Government and Finance will report to the regular session of the 2014 Legislature on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations, according to the resolution.

The Keyser location has the backing of state senators, according to Howell.

Doug York, West Virginia Public Port Authority executive director, will likely be visiting the Keyser site in the next month or so, Howell said.

 An intermodal facility uses two or more forms of transportation to move goods or commodities in or out of an area, according to York. An example would be the Heartland Intermodal Gateway at Prichard, where cargo is transferred from rail to trucking.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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