Tight state budgets
and regional conflicts may endanger plans to build a $1.6 billion
highway in southwestern Virginia, The Associated Press reported
Expressway, which was identified by Congress in 1995 as a high priority
corridor, would run 51 miles through Wise, Dickenson and Buchanan
counties in southwestern Virginia before hooking into the West Virginia
Coalfields Expressway. The three counties run along a southwest-to-northeast
line that hugs the state's border with Kentucky.
Local and state
officials who favor the highway - including Gov. Mark Warner - say
it will help solve economic problems for Appalachian residents, but
lawmakers in northern Virginia disagree, The AP reported, saying
there is little evidence to support the claim.
A. Rollison III, a Republican from Prince William County and chairman
of the House Transportation Committee, told the Northern Virginia
Journal, "There's this powerful belief that somehow if you
build a modern, full-service highway in an economically depressed
area that it will bring economic growth and jobs to a region. There's
no evidence anywhere that it works."