Al's Rantings

A view of the world from a hillbilly perspective.

Location: Virginia

I was born and went to school in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, in southern West Virginia. After graduating from college, I got married, and began working in Bristol, TN. I have have various jobs from Tennessee to up state New York and a few points between. Now I work in West Virginia. Some day, I want to live in Alaska.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Southern West Virginia is getting new highways

In case you have not heard, southern West Virginia is getting 2 major highways. They are called the Coalfields Expressway (see route) and the King Coal Highway (see route).

According to one official, former Secretary of Transportation, Rodney Slater, the Coalfields Expressway will

"providing opportunity for people in the region to get to jobs, to schools and to market so that they can share fully in the economic and social benefits of this nation."

What jobs? The areas is loosing jobs and school children. For example, in Wyoming county the number of school kids dropped by 50% from 1980 to 2001. In 1980 there was an enrollment of 8,554 compared to an an enrollment of 4,284 in 2001. This according to a 11/5/2001 article in The Wyoming County Report (a publication of Ceckley Newspapers). However, the web site does go on to say "no way to quantify the exact economic impact of the Coalfields Expressway."

As for the King Coal Highway, it
"has real potential for opening up unused land for future development. Improved access may stimulate and accelerate development opportunities in areas that were once considered too remote for industrial, commercial or residential development." The road is being built because of potential and it may stimulate development.

Ultimately "
Forecasts of employment and population for this area are not available. As a result, it is not possible to quantify the amount of future development."

I believe the notion that roads are the answer to the economy is incorrect. Business climate and taxes are more important. I have driven I-77, I-64, and I-79 many times. And I have seen few manufacturing operations open close to the interstate. The roads will only serve to allow the people to drive out of the area to do their shopping and maybe leave. You may recall, the I-77 was nicknamed The Hillbilly Highway" because it serve as the road for many people to leave for Ohio and North Carolina in order to find jobs.

Good luck with the highways, but I won't be holding my breath waiting for a big positive impact.


Blogger Pumps said...

Any relation to your post of 12/20
and the same Highway Bill?...LOL

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