CHARLESTON – Delegate Justin Marcum has sent a Bill for drafting that will greatly help improve the infrastructure of southern West Virginia. His Bill is currently being analyzed by the legislative attorneys who will work the Bill into it’s final stages. Marcum has proposed a compromise highway piece of legislation that will help connect the Mountain Parkway in Kentucky with I-79 in Mercer County. The proposed highway will run from Mingo County all the way through Mercer County and will be a major artery for traffic from Beckley to Lexington, Kentucky. It will also open up Southern West Virginia to many new ideas and will help diversify the economy.
Marcum stated that he was a strong advocate of improving the infrastructure of southern West Virginia. “By improving and expanding our roads we can begin the map to progress. If the legislature approves my Bill we will be on our way to diversifying our economy and bring good, high paying jobs back to Southern West Virginia. It is a step in the right direction,” stated Delegate Marcum.
The Bill which is still in the drafting process will bring construction jobs to the area. By extending this roadway, it will allow for a four-lane road to run from Paducah in Western Kentucky to I-64 at Beckley, West Virginia. The cost would be estimated at nearly $10 billon dollars but the potential positive effects from it outweigh it’s costs, reiterated Delegate Marcum.
Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Kentucky Representative Chris Harris are in support of this idea. Stumbo believes the extension is needed to “unlock the potentials of our region’s vibrant workforce.”
Marcum’s Bill would raise State funds for this project by issuing bonds, earmarking a percentage of the gas severance tax, and diverting some of the State’s financial resources to this project. It would also be a collaborative effort that would require Federal Highway Trust Fund Dollars. “We cannot do this alone and that is why I am calling upon all of our federal leaders to help us with this project,” stated Delegate Marcum. “Our members of Congress should be jumping on this idea.”
The proposed road will run right through Mingo County and all of southern West Virginia, stated Marcum. Moreover, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear believes this idea will help transform the region according to a recent press release. He is support of the project and said the State of Kentucky would assist in the project.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, noted the importance of federal dollars for such a road project in a statement by his communications director, Chris Stadelman.”Investing in our infrastructure is critical to supporting ongoing economic growth in the Appalachian region; however, these major projects are difficult without funding support from Congress,” Stadelman said.
Lastly, Marcum’s Bill would utilize the already completed portions of the King Coal Highway to help offset the costs. Delegate Marcum believes this project is doable and that is should be prioritized. “If I was a member of the U.S. Congress from either West Virginia or Kentucky, I would be pushing for this idea to happen now.” He added that “our leaders have failed us in the past and it is vital that we bring new blood to the table, work together with my friends in Kentucky, and focus on jobs in southern West Virginia.” Lastly, Marcum added that the “north-south divide in West Virginia must end. The piece of legislation that I am working on is just one piece of the puzzle, we need federal assistance that I think we can get for the project.”
Delegate Marcum represents both parts of Mingo and Logan counties in the West Virginia House of Delegates. He praised Mingo County Commissioner John Mark Hubbard and Delegate Harry Keith White for also vowing to help with this project. “The teamwork involved to complete this project is vital and that is why I am proud to be working on this with Speaker Stumbo, Rep. Harris, Congressman Evan Jenkins, Delegate Harry Keith White, Governor Tomblin, Governor Beshear, Senator Art Kirkendoll, Commissioner Hubbard, and many others.