Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Co-Chair Anne B. Pope on July 12 toured the Blennerhassett Island Bridge project near Parkersburg, W. Va., to get a progress report on plans that will speed construction and reduce the cost of the new bridge by $50 million.
"Building the Blennerhassett Island Bridge as quickly as possible is key to rolling more prosperity and opportunity into West Virginia and the region," said Peters. "The Blennerhassett Island Bridge is the final link in a vital highway connecting people throughout Appalachia to their jobs and families."
Early plans called for a suspension bridge spanning Blennerhassett Island at an estimated cost of more than $140 million. The Federal Highway Administration, ARC and the West Virginia Department of Transportation worked closely together to develop a new, less complicated bridge design. The new design will save taxpayers at least $50 million and speed construction by about a year.
The Blennerhassett Island Bridge will complete the last remaining section in the roughly 300-mile Corridor D of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS). The four-lane divided highway will stretch from Cincinnati to Bridgeport, W.Va., providing greater mobility and safety to thousands of motorists.
"President Bush is committed to completing the ADHS," said Pope. "The 84% of the system already complete is helping to grow good jobs and stimulate economic development. We want people living and working along corridors D and H to share in those economic opportunities."
Peters and Pope spent two days in the state visiting the Blennerhassett Island Bridge and other projects administered by the FHWA along the ADHS. They are visiting Corridor D between Parkersburg and Clarksburg and Corridor H from Weston to the Virginia state line.
Peters expressed strong support for the Appalachian Highway System and other transportation investments in West Virginia. The Bush administration¹s transportation bill authorizes $2.7 billion for the ADHS, an overall increase in program funding.