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Spending bill includes W.Va. 9, Harpers Ferry projects

March 11, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A federal spending bill signed Wednesday by President Obama contains millions of dollars for the Eastern Panhandle, including money for W.Va. 9 construction and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park enhancements, according to Sen. Robert C. Byrd's office.

A $2 million allocation that Byrd said he secured for the National Historical Park will allow the National Park Service to preserve the historic landscape of Bolivar Heights and School House Ridge and pay for enhanced trail connections, river access and interpretation, according to a news release.

In the "lower town" of Harpers Ferry near the train station, the senator added $1.425 million to the federal government's Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill for improvement to Potomac Street, according to Byrd's office.

Byrd relinquished the chairmanship of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee in November, but his decision to step aside came after the spending bill was written, spokesman Jesse Jacobs said Wednesday.

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"These funds will enable progress to continue on maintaining the unique historical charm and heritage of Harpers Ferry," Byrd said in the news release.

The money for Potomac Street will be used to place utility wires underground, repair streets, and construct new sidewalks and facades on the road, which runs parallel to the Potomac River, according to Byrd's office.

The legislation also includes $6.65 million in new funding for the construction of a new four-lane route for W.Va. 9, primarily for work between Charles Town and the Virginia state line.

The new road's construction between Kearneysville and Martinsburg is either complete or already under construction.

Byrd's office said the senator has secured nearly $150 million for the new highway since 1991.

"Upgrading hazardous Route 9 has been a goal of mine for almost 20 years now," Byrd said. "These additional funds will not only help Route 9 progress towards becoming a convenient, safe route in the Eastern Panhandle, but will also assist in stimulating the local economy."

Other appropriations included in the legislation were:

n $783,000 to complete design and planning of an expansion of laboratory and specialized research space at the Agriculture Research Service Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, W.Va., according to Byrd's office.

n $125,000 for the Jefferson County African-American Community Association to complete interior renovations of Fisherman's Hall in Charles Town, W.Va.

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