I am writing in response to your recent article, “County supervisors told I-73 project appears to be over” (Wednesday, May 25). Nothing could be further from the truth. The effort to build Interstate 73 in our region is very much alive.
I am working with the Secretary of Transportation, relevant members of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), a bi-partisan group of General Assembly members and locally elected officials to move I-73 forward and we are making progress. I also created the Joint Committee to Study I-73 to help determine Virginia’s construction strategies and financing options. Last year, I authored the I-73 Interstate Federal Compact Act that allows Virginia and her sister states to enter into agreements for the cooperative construction of I-73 from the shores of South Carolina to the U.S. – Canadian border in Michigan. That compact has now been approved by the federal grant. This year, my bill to create a state I-73 corridor development fund passed with bi-partisan support in the Senate and will be considered next year by the House of Delegates. These are great strides in getting our state government to be committed to this important highway project; next year, we will continue to move this project forward in the General Assembly.
The question of how to spend the roughly $12 million in unspent congressional earmarks that were provided years ago must be determined by September and this is the responsibility of the CTB. I have been working with local CTB members Court Rosen and William Fralin on a plan that moves I-73 forward by conducting the US Army Corps of Engineers required US Route 220 alternatives analysis study. We cannot get a permit to begin construction of I-73 until this analysis is completed to the satisfaction of the Corps.
Any remaining unspent congressional earmark funds may be spent on US Route 220 safety improvements in the Martinsville/Henry County corridor. Making the highway safer is something I hope all of us can agree is important.
Determining the final corridor of I-73 is an exceptionally complicated process. Not everyone will like the ultimate decision. Those with other views are free to express their opinion, but they do not speak for everyone, and certainly not for me. I am working with the state’s leadership to build I-73 and we are heading in the right direction. It’s not over; rather, it has only just begun.
William M. Stanley, Senator
20th State Senate District