CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced today that he is pledging the State of West Virginia’s full support for a proposed project to construct a new interchange off of Interstate 79 in the Harmony Grove area near Morgantown.
The interchange would serve the new Morgantown Industrial Park and other businesses and homes in the Harmony Grove area of Monongalia County, just south of Westover.
“Morgantown and all of north central West Virginia is a region of our state that continues to grow like crazy. This project to reshape I-79 is a large but necessary undertaking to provide convenient access to the industrial park and other areas where business is flourishing more than ever before,” Gov. Justice said. “These upgrades would also add an element of safety for motorists who use this high-traffic corridor, especially local residents who travel on the interstate every day. For those reasons, I’m incredibly proud to put all of my support behind this proposed project, and I pledge to do everything in my power to see that it becomes a reality.”
In October 2020, the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT) entered into an agreement with private developer and MIP owner Enrout Properties to allow the company to explore the feasibility of building a new interchange off of I-79. Enrout agreed to prepare a justification report, environmental document, and design study – at no cost to the WVDOT – exploring the proposed new interstate access.
Enrout’s proposal must be approved by the WVDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
As part of the 2020 agreement, the Monongalia County Commission would reimburse the WVDOT over a number of years, using funds that might be generated by the county’s Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District in that area.
Morgantown Industrial Park is located within 500 miles of 40% of the U.S. population and is situated directly between I-79 and I-68.
“It’s as simple as ‘location, location, location,’ Gov. Justice said. “Convenient access is one of the very first things that businesses look for when determining where to build, which is exactly why I said we needed to focus on major infrastructure projects like this one when I first came up with the phrase, ‘Roads To Prosperity.’ As you build out your infrastructure, more and more businesses and people will want to come to you, because you make it convenient. You welcome them in with open arms.”
Bordering the Monongahela River, the park also boasts convenient barge access.
The industrial park provides low-cost, flexible, convenient business zones for operations in the industrial and manufacturing industries.
Mountaintop Beverage, a food and beverage packaging company, is already committed to the site, building an approximately 300,000-square-foot packaging facility in the park.
“Amazing companies from all over the world are moving into or expanding operations in West Virginia right now, because they see that our economy is on a roll, our state is as business-friendly as they come, and setting up shop in West Virginia means a chance to live in paradise,” Gov. Justice added. “Once these businesses move here, it drives more and more activity in our economy, and the cycle of prosperity continues building on itself.
“By completing this crucial interchange project, I truly believe we’d be building a real road to prosperity in this area for generations to come.”
Support for the interchange extends to the federal level.
During a subcommittee hearing of the United States Senate Appropriations Committee last week to review the FY2023 budget request for the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia asked USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg to approve the proposed Harmony Grove Interchange.
“I didn’t want to leave this opportunity unchecked for me. Senator Manchin and David McKinley and I wrote you a letter just recently asking you to review and approve the interchange justification report for the Harmony Grove Interchange on I-79 near Morgantown,” Sen. Capito said during the hearing. “If safety’s your priority, this is a safety issue because of the business park that is associated, which is growing, and you know, that’s been difficult for us to be able to grow in our state. We’re excited about the possibilities here, but it would take a lot of truck traffic out of those local areas. So, I just want to put that on your radar screen again and hope you can take a look at that.”
Sen. Capito remarks: WATCH VIDEO | READ RELEASE