MADISON, W.Va. — Three years after it appeared the Justice administration was going in a different direction, a southern West Virginia economic development project is back on the front burner.
The state Division of Highways recently announced the awarding of a multi-million dollar contract for work to construct an intersection and enhance access to the former Hobet mining site in Boone County. A second contract is in the process of being awarded for another key part of the project to build a bridge over the railroad and Coal River to the site from Corridor G near the intersection with Route 3.
State Senator Ron Stollings of Boone County says it’s nice to have the Rock Creek Development Project back at the forefront.
“We’re very excited. It’s not as timely as we had hoped for. We’ve lost several yeas, but there are companies interested,” he explained.
He couldn’t name any of the companies at this point. In recent years the area had been eyed up as potential military training center.
Converting the 12,000 acre reclaimed mountain top mining site into the development was a project of former Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s Administration. Initially, it appeared the Justice Administration was also on board, but the idea dried up.
Stollings said it’s unclear exactly what moved the project back up the priority list with the awarding of the road contracts, but he said the whole region needs it.
“The site is huge and it would impact the economy of all of southern Wiest Virginia including Charleston and Kanawha County in a very positive way,” he said.
Stollings said his chief concern now is to make sure as the roads are built—the infrastructure is built along with it. He suggested installing sewer, water, power, and any other service lines needing to be buried would be best installed during the road construction phase.
“Take the infrastructure with you up there as you build the road, so you don’t have to come back and do it later,” he said.
Stollings said companies have shown an interest, but was not specific about which companies or a timeline for their development. The road construction contract are expected to take about three years to complete.
“Things in economic development move very slowly. Thad’s very frustrating at times, but we’re at the point of being excited again,” Stollings added.