Bob Miller To Push For Local Projects During D.C. Visit
MOUNDSVILLE — Marshall County Commissioner Bob Miller will join dozens of other county officials invited to Washington D.C., where he hopes to garner federal support for local infrastructure development.
Miller said specifics of the meeting, set for 11 a.m. Thursday, are not yet known, but he hopes to take the opportunity to gain support for two projects for which he has long been pushing — a new model to better utilize industrial space in the county, and the extension of Interstate 68 from Morgantown to Moundsville.
Miller pointed to the tremendous growth potential if PTT Global Chemical decides to build a $6 billion ethane cracker just across the river in near Dilles Bottom as justification for what he calls the “Hi-Lo Multi-Plant Logistics Model.” It involves attracting multiple plants to take advantage of shared resources at a single site, such as the former Kammer Plant property.
“Each $6 billion cracker is great, but the real gain to the area is that we need to lock in the manufacturing, so their customers can be in a 250-mile radius of those plants, and that’s up to $250 billion in new plants,” Miller said. “That’s just incomprehensible to me, that kind of growth. But they claim worldwide, that’s what happens when those things are built. It’s cheaper for them to come here with cheap energy, so they can manufacture close, where they’re not shipping across the world and then shipping back. There’s a reason to come here, but there’s they don’t have any land.”
Miller hopes to gain support at higher levels for the logistics model, which would include repurposing the site of the former Kammer Plant in Marshall County, which is already zoned, cleared, and permitted for various transportation needs.
“When the Kammer Plant shut down, I was talking with some development people, and it hit me: It’s a shame someone will only build one plant on that site. … That should be a logistics transportation center. We’ve got nine barge permits on that site, we’ve got rail, and a four-lane highway, and the ridge just runs back. We could put plants up there and connect them down there, and by conveyor and pipeline, run materials to the plant and finished products down to the transportation centers.”
Miller hopes to have independent companies develop the various sites, while the mountainous land to the east of W.Va. 2 would be extremely cheap.
Miller said he has already discussed the idea with several state senators who would be promoting the model, and he hopes to gain some leads on potential funding sources while in the nation’s capital.
Additionally, Miller said if the I-68 extension ever becomes a reality, products could be moved by road from Baltimore to the Ohio Valley in a straight, unbroken path, allowing for much faster transportation of goods and sparking an economic upturn.
While he said it would be “an honor” to meet president Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Miller said he is more looking forward to the possibility of meeting with infrastructure representatives to open a dialogue over funding for the projects proposed for the county.
“Hopefully, that’ll happen, and if I meet any of the other two guys, that’ll be cool,” he added.
Miller will be the only Marshall County commissioner to attend. He said fellow Commissioners John Gruzinskas and Scott Varner will not be able to travel to Washington due to scheduling issues.