Friends of Blackwater has officially submitted comments to the West Virginia Department of Highways, concerning the proposed Corridor H route from Davis to Parsons, WV.
We have objected to the route that runs in between Davis and Thomas for a number of reasons:
-Virginia Big Eared bats are an endangered bat species have been found along the proposed route. Their habitat would be destroyed upon construction of this new stretch of highway.
-The Blackwater Industrial Complex is of regional historic significance, including the coke ovens and railroad structures important during the coal and timber boom in the early 1900s.
-Additional acid mine drainage (AMD) could be released into the watershed as major construction runs through the maze of old coal mines in Tucker County. Construction could damage these mines and open them up, allowing polluted water to make its way into the Blackwater River, negatively impacting the ecology and tourism in the area. The current proposal offers no mitigation options.
-Creating an artificial barrier between Davis and Thomas would negatively impact the visuals of both towns, interrupting the cultural connection with fast food stores and gas stations. This barrier would undermine much of the heritage tourism appeal of the area.
-Tucker County High School students’ safety may be compromised by the proximity of a large highway next to the school’s entrance, especially when it is shrouded in fog and covered with snow. New drivers would be especially at risk.
Our belief is that a better alternative route for Corridor H would be looped north of Thomas, going down the east side of town. The route would avoid or mitigate many of the concerns outlined above. From the high school down, the new highway should be constructed as a two lane road with numerous pull offs to avoid damage to the Monongahela National Forest, natural areas and other resources not yet identified.