One of the original 23 corridors, Corridor D (U.S. Highway 50) was built to provide access to major urban centers along the east coast from the Midwest, while creating economic development for northwest and North-Central West Virginia and southeast Ohio.
Project Type:Widening Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:23,722 Length (mi):70.00
Economic Distress:1.44 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):111 Population Growth Rate (%):-0.13
Employment Growth Rate (%):0.75 Market Size:54,264 Airport Travel Distance:16.2587 Topography:18
Region:Southeast State:WV County:County
City:N/A Urban/Class Level:Mixed Local Area:N/A
Impact Area:County Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:39.210893 / -82.235099
Initial Study Date:N/A Post Constr. Study Date:1998
Constr. Start Date:1966 Constr. End Date:1977
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): N/A Planned Cost (YOE $):200,000,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):843,989,000 Actual Cost (curr $):1,192,344,906
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||40504300.00||20171200.00||60675500.00|
|Output (in $M's)||132337000.00||65903900.00||198240900.00|
The Corridor D project of the Appalachian Development Highway System provided four-lane access along US 50/32, a 170-mile stretch of road connecting northern West Virginia with Cincinnati, Ohio. As part of this project, a 70-mile segment of this road connecting I-77 and I-79 was widened from four lanes to two lanes. This case study focuses on this 70-mile segment of Corridor D, which connects Parkersburg and Clarksburg in Northwestern West Virginia. The $843.7 million (1995$) project, completed in 1977, has supported the transition of the study area away from heavy industry and toward services; thousands of new jobs in the corridor have been created in healthcare, education, government, and education since the project was completed, nearly 40 years ago. The net employment impact of the project itself is estimated at approximately 1,000 jobs, due to its role in retaining growth in indigenous manufacturing activities.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
This case study focuses on the 70-mile segment of Corridor D of the Appalachian Development Highway System within the state of West Virginia. Corridor D is northern West Virginia's major east-west access route, connecting I-79 and I-77. It encompasses the counties of Harrison, Doddridge, Ritchie, and Wood Counties located in northern West Virginia (80 miles south of Pittsburgh, PA).
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
The four-county study area is a former center of glass-making and coal mining in northern West Virginia. Corridor D is anchored by the cities of Clarksburg and Parkersburg, with populations of 15,000 and 30,000, respectively. Since the project was completed in 1977, the populations of these two cities have declined by 33% and 25% respectively. Some of the sources consulted thought that the highway may have been a factor in contributing to urban population loss by making the rural areas on US 50 more accessible. By reducing commuting time, the project encouraged a redistribution of population away from the study area's older cities to new suburban areas on their fringes, reducing urban densities during the past thirty years.
The West Virginia portion of Corridor D was widened in small increments over a nine-year period from 1969 to 1977.The total cost of the West Virginia segment of Corridor D is estimated at approximately $843.7 million (1995$).
The Corridor D project was intended to provide better linkage for the economically depressed Appalachian region with East Coast and the Midwest population centers, breaking the historic pattern of isolation of this mountain region. The objective was to open a new east-west trade lane through northwest West Virginia and southeast Ohio, which would provide new opportunities for business development in the study area.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Corridor D is northern West Virginia's major east-west access route, connecting I-79 and I-77. Road straightening cut five miles off the trip form Clarksburg to Parkersburg, reducing the length of the journey to 70 miles. Widening of the road to four lanes resulted in a savings of 35 minutes for this journey, a 33% decrease in travel time. Data assembled by Wilbur Smith Associates show that these time savings resulted in travel efficiencies amounting to $150 million (1995$) a year, with net benefits of $108 million (1995$).
There is no evidence that the widening of US 50 has changed travel patterns. Between 1969 and 1998, both car and truck vehicle miles traveled decreased by 5%. Since the project resulted in a shortening of the road by about 5%, this indicates a stable level of traffic. Since the Corridor D project has just been completed with the opening of the Blennerhasset Island Bridge in June of 2008, the full transportation impact has not yet been realized. In the longer term, Corridor D, spanning from Clarksburg to Cincinnati, is expected to relieve the congestion in the I-70 corridor (80 miles to the north), which is now over capacity. This would increase traffic volumes significantly through the study area.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
Over the past thirty years, the Corridor D project has supported the economic transition of the area from heavy manufacturing and mining to a more diversified-service oriented economy, in which energy and technology sectors offer the most promise for the future. Since the project was completed in 1977, jobs in the study area grew by 42% and personal income rose by 75% in real terms. Meanwhile, the population declined slightly, dropping by -2%. The healthy rate of job growth in the study area was identical to that of the state average, but population growth was 6% below the state average. This is an effect of smaller households and increased female labor market participation -- both national trends during the late twentieth century.
The project appears to have resulted in a dispersal of population and jobs from the major cities anchoring the study corridor, Clarksburg and Parkersburg, to newer homes built on the suburban fringes. The widening of US 50 brought outlying areas within easy commuting distance of cities. From 1970 to 2001, the populations of the cities of Clarksburg and Parkersburg declined by 33% and 25% respectively, as people began to move to new housing developments along US 50 and near the interchanges around I-77 and I-79. Overall, population density in the study area remained unchanged, and is 75% higher than the state average.
This study area has traditionally been dependent on heavy manufacturing, particularly chemicals, glass, metals, and plastics. To date, the project's main direct economic impact has been to retain the indigenous Symington Window manufacturing company in rural Ritchie County, which has expanded to an estimated 1,000 workers. If US 50 had not been widened, the company would likely have moved to another site within the project area closer to the interstates.
A number of larger trends have affected economic and land use development in the study area. Foremost has been the economic restructuring that the area has undergone, from coal mining and heavy manufacturing to a more diversified service and energy-based economy. Other national trends have also influenced economic growth in the region, including increased female participation in the labor force, smaller households, and a proliferation of service jobs. These factors underlie the increase in jobs while population has remained static in the study area.
I-77 and I-79, which anchor the study corridor, likely have had a bigger impact on development in the region than the Corridor D project itself. Most of the development in the study area has been around interstate interchanges. Some of these projects may have occurred if the US 50 were two lanes. In fact, most of the development has occurred in the area just east of I-79, where US 50 is still two lanes.
Finally, the lag in development in the interior of the study region is due in part to the lack of water and sewer infrastructure outside of the established towns. Few industrial parks have been established in the Corridor. Where industrial parks have been established, they have been successful in retaining industry. But limited grant funding and the area's sparse population make it difficult to finance bond issues for new infrastructure.
Wilbur Smith Associates, Appalachian Development Highways Economic Impact Studies, July 1998.
Palmer Engineering Company, Assessing the Growth Inducing Impact of Infrastructure Development in Appalachian Ohio (no date).www.moverc.org Mid-Ohio Regional Planning and Development Council www.retionvi/comWest Virginia Regional Planning and Development Council www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corridor_D
OrganizationWVDOT WVDOT District 4 WVDOT District 3 Mid Ohio Valley Regional Council Ritchie County Simonton Windows Harrison County