Portman, Manchin Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill To Finish Appalachian Development Highway System

June 24, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Finish the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) Act, which would provide $1.75 billion in dedicated funding over five years for the network of transportation corridors across Appalachia for the first time since 2012. Ohio stands to receive $122.1 million in funding through this legislation.

“Since its creation in 1965, the Appalachian Development Highway System has created thousands of miles of highway, creating jobs and bringing important economic development to rural parts of Ohio and the rest of Appalachia. Unfortunately, the portion that remains incomplete is difficult to build and expensive,” said Senator Portman. “I am pleased to be introducing this bipartisan legislation with Senator Manchin, so that the System may finally be completed and hard-to-reach places in Appalachia are no longer hard to reach.” 

“West Virginia was recently ranked as one of the worst states for our interstate roads and bridges – it’s clear our infrastructure needs an investment. Since I served as Governor of West Virginia, we have worked hard to complete Corridor H, our last remaining section of the Appalachian Development Highway System, including directing nearly $165 million in federal funding over the past three years, but we can’t do it alone,” said Senator Manchin. “Our bipartisan legislation would return the ADHS funding to its pre-2012 levels to ensure that the highway system can be completed soon to connect Appalachia to the east coast and the rest of the nation. President Biden has made infrastructure investments a cornerstone of his presidential agenda, and this is the perfect opportunity to make good on the promise made to Appalachia so many years ago.”

Senators Portman, Manchin, and Casey were joined by Representatives David Trone (D-MD) and Gary Palmer (R-AL).

In the 1960s, one in three Appalachians lived in poverty, with per capita income 23 percent lower than the U.S. average at the time. At the time, Appalachia was isolated from much of the country, having been largely bypassed by the Interstate Highway System. The ADHS was signed into law in 1965 by President Johnson to build 3,090 miles of highway. As of FY 2021, 91.1 percent of the system is under construction or open to traffic, with only 276 miles left to go. According to the ARC, the full cost of completion for the ADHS is roughly $9.7 billion. Its completion would create 47,000 jobs and facilitate billions more in goods and services throughout Appalachia. Every $1 invested in the ADHS yields an estimated return of $7.10.

Since its inception in 1965, the ADHS has generally received specifically dedicated funding for its construction from Congress on a yearly basis. However, in 2012, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and its successor, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, no longer provided dedicated ADHS funds to States’ Departments of Transportation, and many projects languished. States were permitted to build and complete ADHS corridors at their own discretion per a more general federal allocation. Unfortunately, states focused on less costly, more immediate projects. The purpose of ADHS was to build in isolated areas in Appalachia – places that were difficult, expensive, and hard to reach. Dedicated federal funding is the only viable solution to finishing the last few portions of this critical network.

Bill text can be found here.

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