West Virginia pursues I-68 extension

| Monday, September 16, 2002

West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise told the state's transportation secretary Sept. 12 that extending I-68 from Morgantown to Moundsville should be a priority in new state highway projects. Estimates of the cost of the highway range from $500 million to $1 billion.

In a letter, Wise directed Transportation Secretary Fred VanKirk to aggressively support the project and develop an economic justification report, which would be needed to get federal funding. The administration and supporters of the highway want the state to be ready early next year for the next round of federal highway funding in Congress.

The state reportedly would have to pay only 10 percent of the total cost if the highway would be designated as part of the interstate system, but VanKirk said few new interstates are being built these days. He says it's more likely to get a lesser designation that would require 20 percent state funding, which includes dedicated funds from fuel taxes, road user taxes and license fees.

The exact route of the proposed highway hasn't been determined, but supporters want to keep it all within West Virginia and connect to the bridge at Moundsville over the Ohio River.

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