~Highway will Provide Expanded Access to Appalachian Region~
Jul 31 2009
Contact: Kevin Hall (202-224-2023)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) joined Senator Robert Byrd (D-VA), in introducing the Appalachian Development Highway System Completion Act of 2009, which will re-authorize the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS). Completion of this much-needed infrastructure would provide significant economic benefits to the region.
“I’m pleased to join Senator Byrd in this legislation that will greatly benefit Virginia and surrounding states,” said Senator Webb. “The completion of this highway system is long overdue, and this legislation is vital to its success. The construction will create new jobs and the final product will spur increased commerce, tourism and economic development in the Appalachian region.”
“The transportation challenges in Appalachia are no less significant than those in our congested urban and suburban communities, and I am pleased to support a regional effort to keep this federal commitment,” Senator Warner said. “Completing this transportation network will create jobs, open our communities to expanded commerce, and promote highway safety. “
In a study prepared for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the completion of the ADHS would yield significant economic benefits for both the Appalachian Region and the nation. The analysis estimates that 80,500 jobs would be created with an increase of $3.2 billion in annual wages. In addition to job creation, by facilitating national freight flows, reducing travel times, improving safety, and enhancing access to markets, every $1 spent would return $3 in economic benefits.
The legislation reauthorizes the ADHS for an additional five years. The current authorization is set to expire on September 30, 2009. By the end of FY 2008, 2,672 miles—approximately 86.5 percent of the miles authorized—were complete or under construction. In Virginia alone, 204.6 miles are ADHS miles, with 160 of them completed. The final two corridors to complete the highway system in Virginia are corridor H (State Route 55) and corridor Q (US Route 460). As of late 2006, the Appalachian Regional Commission estimates that $1.17 million is needed in Virginia to complete these roadways.
“Addressing the transportation needs of this country has been part of my life’s work,” said Senator Byrd. “While serving in the House of Representatives, I cast my vote in favor of establishing the Interstate Highway System back in 1958. I was serving in the Senate when the idea of creating a highway system for the 13 Appalachian states came to fruition with the passage the Appalachian Regional Development Act. I am heartened that first term Senators Webb, Casey, and Warner have taken up the charge of the ADHS, and I thank them for their support. They have the foresight to see that the system will benefit their states and rural communities as well.”
In 1964, the President's Appalachian Regional Commission (PARC) reported to Congress that economic growth in Appalachia would not be possible until the region's isolation had been overcome. Because the cost of building highways through Appalachia's mountainous terrain was high, the region had never been served by adequate roads.
The PARC report and the Appalachian governors placed top priority on a modern highway system as the key to economic development. As a result, Congress authorized the construction of the ADHS in the Appalachian Development Act of 1965. The ADHS was designed to generate economic development in previously isolated areas, supplement the interstate system, connect Appalachia to the interstate system, and provide access to areas within the region as well as to markets in the rest of the nation.