Cumberland Times-News

Local News

September 13, 2011

Highway officials outline routes to connect I-68 with Corridor H

Public asked for comment on three possible options

KEYSER, W.Va. — Highway officials have chosen three possible routes to connect Interstate 68 in Cumberland to Corridor H in West Virginia. One of those corridors will be chosen to connect the two highways by the spring of next year.

“We’ve narrowed it down to these three corridors,” said Bill Cover, assistant project manager with the Maryland State Highway Administration, adding that originally there were five options.

Corridor C connects the two routes beginning in Cumberland and following Knobley Road to Corridor H. Both Corridor B and D begin in LaVale and split past Keyser, with B heading slight southwest and connecting by state Route 93. Corridor D would eventually connect back into U.S. Route 220 and meet Corridor H above Moorefield.

Cover said that the main concern of people is losing their homes and property in the move and the environmental effects.

“(We’ll) try to reach a balance between environmental impact and personal property,” said Cover.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation held last night’s open house at the Keyser Primary Middle School to gather public opinion and to give residents the chance to view the proposed plans. Tonight, the Maryland State Highway Administration will hold a public forum from 6: to 9 p.m. at Bel Air Elementary School for Maryland residents to get the chance to give their opinion.

The public opinion of the project will be taken into consideration when deciding which corridor meets the needs of the area best. People are encouraged to submit their comments by Oct. 14.

Ben Hark, head of the environmental section of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, said the DOT has been doing studies on the project since 2006 to determine the best route to build.

“There is a lot of natural resource concerns and historical issues,” said Hark.

Environmental impact studies have already been done and with all of the total recognized environmental conditions combined, the draft of the Environmental Impact Statement said that Corridor C will have the least amount of impact with 42 total environmental conditions impacted. Corridor B has 43 RECs and D has 55.

“It’s a very long process, this is just the beginning,” said Hark.

While Tier One is funded through the West Virginia Department of Highways funds, Tier Two, which includes more detailed alignment studies on the chosen corridor, does not have a funding source.

Richard Lechliter, Mineral County commissioner, said that once Corridor H is completed, that it will provide the stimulus to get this project completed.

“I think this presents a great opportunity for the future,” said Lechliter.

Melinda Newhouse of Knobley Road said that her concerns lie with the farming industry.

“Keep the farms,” said Newhouse. “If anybody likes chicken, they don’t want to interfere with the farms.”

Newhouse’s father has fields that he rents to be farmed out and said that she hopes the road that they choose will not go through her or her neighbors houses.

Emily Newman can be contacted at enewman@times-news.com.

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