Jack Walker Published

Senate Approves New I-73 Corridor Economic Commission

Senator Mark Maynard stands at his desk and addresses his fellow senators, holding a microphone. Surrounding him, other senators sit at their desks, facing forward.
Sen. Mark Maynard, R-Wayne, encourages other senators to support a bill he sponsored that would create a new economic commission in southern West Virginia.
Will Price/WV Legislative Photography

The I-73 highway corridor is currently under construction in southern West Virginia and legislators are looking to parlay the project into an economic opportunity.

West Virginia’s portion of I-73 would connect the state to highways stretching from Michigan to Myrtle Beach. With the region opened to more out-of-state travelers, lawmakers hope economic opportunities will roll in with them.

On Thursday, the West Virginia Senate unanimously approved SB 354. The bill would create an economic commission to advise local industry leaders on development and federal funding opportunities available to them following the project’s completion.

Sen. Mark Maynard, R-Wayne, said the commission hopes to turn the highway’s construction into an economic opportunity for McDowell, Mercer, Mingo and Wayne counties, which the new corridor will intersect.

He added that the highway construction project would qualify the region for new funding opportunities.

“There’s some federal funding out there available for this that currently the state of West Virginia doesn’t get for highway programs,” he said. “Hopefully we can go after some of that.”

Receiving approval from the Senate, the bill now awaits review from the West Virginia House of Delegates.

“Just by making this [corridor] a real thing, it will solve the economic issues because it will allow interstate commerce,” Maynard said. “At the exit ramps, it will allow development, fast food restaurants and truck stops.”

“The bounds are limitless,” Maynard said.