By Bonni McKeown, Stewards of Potomac Highlands
People around Wardensville, a tiny, blossoming town in eastern Hardy County, are not certain about the West Virginia Department of Highway’s plans to continue Corridor H, which now stops at the western edge of town. Like residents and tourists in Davis and Thomas in Tucker County, many fear that the new four-lane crashing through the mountains could dry up a thriving economy by carrying motorists around a bypass.
In its haste to build West Virginia’s easternmost section of the 130-mile Appalachian Corridor, the Division of Highways is doing a re-evaluation of 20-year-old environmental studies, with apparently no revised Environmental Impact Statement. And there are serious issues, including long term damage to the wells and springs which supply Wardensville’s water.
The West Virginia Department of Highway’s maps show the four-lane going through the town’s wellhead protection area. Environmental groups are raising concerns about the corridor crossing high-quality trout streams, Waites Run and Trout Run, which run through the George Washington National Forest.
Appearing before the state legislature’s oversight committee on transportation accountability on Sept. 11, 2022, the West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary James Wriston brushed aside complaints of Corridor H damage to environment, towns, and people’s wells, repeating, “We’re going to build this road. We’re going to build this road.”
However, Corridor H, which carries little traffic outside of the route’s largest town, Elkins, may still be a Road to Nowhere. While it’s slated to connect with I-66 in Virginia, that state’s Commonwealth Transportation board has no plans to build it. On Oct. 11, 2022, the Board of Supervisors in Shenandoah County, the Virginia county most affected by the now 20-year-old plans for Corridor H, reaffirmed its opposition in a letter to the Federal Highway Administration.
Corridor H opponents in Wardensville, including the group Stewards of the Potomac Highlands and a Facebook group, No to Corridor H – Wardensville, plan a public meeting Sunday, Dec. 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the War Memorial Building, located at 190 Main Street in downtown Wardensville.
They are asking citizens to write to public officials and submit letters of comment to the highway department, due on Dec. 12.