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The Planet

March 1998, Volume 5, Number 2   Road to Nowhere


    For the fourth straight year, the "Green Scissors" report  --  a document that targets wasteful programs subsidized by taxpayer dollars  --  has recommended canceling  West Virginia's Corridor H.  Corridor H is a proposed 100-mile, four- lane highway from Elkins, W.V. to the Virginia state line that would cost more than a billion dollars to build.

    According to West Virginia Chapter Conservation Chair Jim Sconyers, "This road will impact dozens of pristine high mountain streams and funnel traffic right through the heart of the Monongahela National Forest, which is a true treasure not only for West Virginia, but for all the Eastern United States. With a tourism industry poised to free us from traditional reliance on coal and timber, we can't afford projects like this. They will kill the goose that lays the green tourist egg."

     In addition, "Corridor H is a good example of an unneeded road," said John Holtzclaw, the Club's National Transportation Committee chair. "Projected traffic in the Potomac Highlands area, where it would run, is half of the national standard to merit a four-lane highway."

    So who wants it? Among its proponents are several prominent landowners who see the sparsely populated, unzoned West Virginia highlands as prime sprawl real estate.

    The West Virginia highway department has only enough federal and state funds to pay for about 15 miles of the road. But the Clinton administration's Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) includes special funding that would pay for most of this road if the act is reauthorized this spring. No other region in the United States gets this kind of special funding for new highways, according to Bonni McKeown, Club member and president of Corridor H Alternatives.

    "Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Gov. Cecil Underwood and the highway department are trying to quash resistance here by making people think it's a done deal, but it's not; the ISTEA bill hasn't passed yet," said McKeown. The Club is pushing for an ISTEA reauthorization that improves conditions for pedestrians and bicycles, better supports mass transit and eliminates highway expansion.


To take action: Urge your representative to eliminate special funding for Appalachian Corridor highways from ISTEA. Urge a "no" vote on the Appalachian Regional Commission Road Fund because it's being used to induce sprawl and destroy a national treasure.

For more information: About Corridor H, contact Bonni McKeown at (304) 874- 3887, bmckeown@raven-villages.net; about ISTEA, contact John Holtzlcaw at (415) 977-5534, john.holtzclaw@sierraclub.org.


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