Isolated county holds on to hope for major highway - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Isolated county holds on to hope for major highway

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WELCH -

Plans for a new highway in southern West Virginia are moving right along and one shut-out community is hoping to see some increased traffic in the future.

The Coalfield Express Highway has been a plan in motion since the 1990's but due to a lack of highway funding, it's been a slow moving process.

 

The latest section set to be worked on is a two mile stretch in Raleigh County.

But people in McDowell County are not giving up hope for this highway to boost their economy in the future.

"I think we are the only county in the state that does not have a four lane highway so it's tough, it's tough to recruit businesses," said Economic Development Director Peni Adams.

Adams said without a major highway - businesses are saying no to moving in.

"If you're talking to a tire manufacturer or any other type of manufacturing, they are going to choose a place with a four lane highway or near a river so they can put it on a barge," said Adams.

Right now - people are forced to leave the county for jobs.

"I know several people that have to do that, travel back and forth from here to Mercer County for better pay, better opportunities, better benefits and so forth," said resident Ralph Kirk.

And Adams said the highway should ultimately increase the county's tax base.

"Business, individuals, the education system, I just think that everyone will benefit from it," she said.

For a look at the map of the expressway visit their web site here: http://www.coalfieldsexpressway.com/