Blackwater Avoidance Study
The FHWA and WVDOT are preparing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to evaluate alternatives for avoiding impacts on the "Blackwater Area" while providing appropriate access from Corridor H to the communities of Thomas and Davis.

The "Blackwater Area" includes the Blackwater Canyon from Thomas to Hendricks. This area includes historic resources associated with coal mining and coke production in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Study Area is generally described as following: Beginning 0.9 miles east of the intersection of US 219 and Forest Road 18, near Big Run and proceeding east toward Thomas. The Study Area will not include any alignments south of the old preferred Alternative. The Study Area will pass north of Thomas and south of the Town of Williams and ties to WV 93, 0.7 miles east of WV 32.

Why this Study Area? Both Western and Eastern ends (termini) were determined per the Settlement Agreement, transportation function (access for economic development), and tie-ins to the Old Preferred Alternative. The Study Area to the west is also determined by the presence of Long Lick Run, a known high quality stream system. The Study Area to the east must accommodate access to both the City of Davis and the proposed industrial park. The Study Area to the North is determined by the presence of known high quality wetlands and by transportation function (access for economic development). As no population center is located further north of Williams, an alternative any farther north would not provide the proper access for the City of Thomas or subsequent recreational opportunities to the south. Alternatively, expanding the Study Area to the south would result in direct impacts to the Blackwater Canyon and may involve historic resources associated with coal mining and coke production in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The avoidance alignments to be evaluated in the study generally involve shifting Corridor H just to the north of Thomas, then connecting to WV 93 east of Davis.

In conjunction with the SEIS, WVDOT has established a 12-member "Community Advisory Group" (CAG), representing a cross-section of the interests potentially affected by a potential alignment shift in the Blackwater area.

Members of the CAG are appointed by local governments, planning agencies and advocacy groups.

The role of the CAG is to broaden opportunities for public involvement in all phases of the alignment-shift study, from the initial scoping stage through the selection of a preferred alternative. The CAG will not have a formal decision-making role.

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