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.