Interstate 68 Meetings Continue in Washington

MOUNDSVILLE — Trump Administration officials are continuing to listen as West Virginia officials push for an expanded Interstate 68 from Morgantown through Marshall County.

Marshall County Commissioner Robert Miller led a contingent to Washington, D.C., last week to meet with Brittany Carter, the White House assistant director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Miller said the group discussed the I-68 project’s prospects of being included within Trump’s expected $200 billion infrastructure improvement plan, which should be presented to Congress by the end of this year. The I-68 project is expected to cost at least $1 billion.

“$200 billion isn’t a lot for projects like that,” Miller said. “But if we can get the White House on our side, it can help in negotiating certain things.”

Miller said he was blessed to have with him in Washington five men he termed “well-credentialed.”

Accompanying Miller were State Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, also executive director of the West Virginia Route 2/Interstate 68 Authority; Brian Anderson, director of the West Virginia University Energy Institute; John Deskins, director of the WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research; Greg Kucera, marketing director for Shale Crescent USA; and Bryce Custer, a broker focussing on petroleum and energy services with NAI Spring.

The group provided Carter with information on how the highway would benefit the gas and oil industries seeking to extract resources in that corridor, and how related industrial businesses would spring to life there.

The government’s investment would result in economic growth and more tax revenues, they told her.

The discussion determined the next step will be to involve representatives of the federal energy and commerce departments in the talks.

“If we can’t get this road built now, never going to get built,” Miller said. “With this much potential for economic activity, I am optimistic this will happen.”

He acknowledges the road to constructing the highway is likely to be a lengthy process.

“There are no definite plans, but there are definitely open dialogues,” Miller said.

The July 11 trip was Miller’s third to Washington to discuss with Trump administration representatives construction of the I-68 extension. The first took place Dec. 8, and the second Feb. 20.

Clements said the trip last week was his first to Washington regarding I-68.

“The meeting changed the road map on what we have to do to get something done,” he said. “We’re going to have to start working to get some of the oil and gas developers to come out and promote this anyway we can.

“It’s important to get state government, local people in on this. “The more people we can get and the more organizations, the better off we will be.”

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