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US 48 - Corridor H in Virginia

(Seth Dunn)
In April of 2003, new signs were erected on VA 55 west of Interstate 81 and Strasburg.  The new signs are for US 48, the approved designation for Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Corridor 'H'.  Corridor H is one of three ARC routes that run through Virginia.  The others are the nearly completed Corridors 'B' and 'Q' which run in Southwestern Virginia.  Most ARC highways are not full fledged Interstate Highways; typically they are multi-laned partially controlled access roadways.  There are interchanges and grade separation for most routes, though some do include full freeways which Corridors B and Q in Virginia do have.  Further, some have been converted to Interstates, Corridor B (I-26) in North Carolina, is an example.  As of September 2015, nearly 88 percent of the ARC highway system is complete.

Corridor H is legislatively routed from Interstate 79 near Weston, West Virginia to Interstate 81 near Strasburg, Virginia.  Construction began on the I-79 to Elkins, WV segment in the 1970s and was finished by the mid-1990s.  Corridor H from Weston to Elkins carries US 33 in its entirety and parts of US 119 and 250.

1994-96 WV State Map showing Corridor 'H' and US 33
entering into Virginia and terminating at Interstate 81
After completion of the highway to Elkins, West Virginia began a push to complete the entire route into and through Virginia.  Then Governor Cecil Underwood made it a point of his administration to "...move aggressively toward construction of every segment of Corridor H as we have been financially and legally permitted to do so." (1)  Underwood's aggressiveness was clearly demonstrated in the 1994-96 Official West Virginia Transportation Map.  The map showed the entire proposed routing of Corridor H, including showing the highway's possible route in Virginia. (See Map on Left) West Virginia also gave the new route the designation of US 33.

However, Virginia did not share Underwood's aggressive approach towards building the highway and in 1995 announced that the Commonwealth was not interested in completing their portion of Corridor H.  West Virginia, in turn, lowered the priority of completing the highway west of Wardensville.  As of 2017, WV intends to begin construction from Wardensville to the Virginia state line in 2027

Since the mid-1990s, West Virginia has begun to build portions of Corridor H from Elkins to Wardensville.  There have been various amounts of opposition and other obstacles, but since the late 1990s small pieces of the highway have begun to fall into place.  During that same time period, West Virginia had begun talking about designating all of Corridor H as US 48.  Finally, on October 11, 2002, AASHTO approved the designation for both states.  Although Virginia has signed US 48, it has not changed its position to not build their section of Corridor H.  Though prior to the 2012 MAP-21 transportation funding authorization by Congress, Virginia had told the federal government that they would complete their section of Corridor H by 2030.  However, since that point there has been no movement within Virginia towards completion of this route.

US 48/VA 55 BGS (Exit 296) on I-81 North  (Oscar Voss)

US 48 West and VA 55 Shields (Oscar Voss)

US 48/VA 55 BGS (Exit 296) on I-81 South  (Oscar Voss)

US 48/VA 55 Shields (Seth Dunn)
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