POINT PLEASANT — Mason County Commissioners Tracy Doolittle, Miles Epling and Rick Handley have sent a letter of support to the West Virginian Department of Highways about the state submitting a TIGER grant application for the completion of U.S. 35.
According to the United States Department of Transportation, the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery — or TIGER Discretionary Grant program — provides an opportunity for the DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives. The Mason County Commission feels the completion of U.S. 35 fits this criteria.
In the letter sent to Paul Mattox, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Highways, the commission states transportation is a vital piece of the economic puzzle for any community and, in the case of U.S. 35, is a long-standing need to strengthen the county’s development efforts.
The commission referred to U.S. 35 as the “lifeblood of our county” and spoke about the dangers of the two-lane stretch through Mason and Putnam counties.
The letter was discussed at this week’s meeting of the Mason County Commission. Handley said letters of support for the TIGER grant were promised from the Putnam County Commission, officials from the Toyota Plant in Buffalo, American Electric Power, and the Marshall University Mid-Ohio Valley Center.
Earlier this week, U.S. Congressman Nick J. Rahall, D-Beckley, said he would work on moving funding options forward for the completion of U.S. 35, that included possible funding in the upcoming round with the TIGER program.
In each round of TIGER, DOT receives many applications to build and repair critical pieces of what DOT calls freight and passenger transportation networks. Applicants must detail the benefits their project would deliver for five long-term outcomes: safety, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, livability and environmental sustainability.
It’s estimated to cost $235 million to turn the remaining 14.6 miles of two-lane road into four lanes through Mason and Putnam counties.