Portion of federal funding to be used to open property for future opportunities
WEIRTON — A portion of the more than $40 million awarded to Brooke and Hancock counties through the recent Congressional spending bill will assist in opening up former steel-making property in Weirton for future economic development opportunities.
Of the funds announced March 11, $3 million was awarded to the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, and $1 million to the City of Weirton, with the goal of constructing an industrial access road through the Frontier Crossings development in Weirton.
“The goal is to connect the dots,” Mike Paprocki, executive director of BHJ, explained, noting plans are for the road to stretch from the Cove Road and Weir Avenue intersection, through the property now owned by the Frontier Group of Companies, and eventually lead to Brown’s Island.
Paprocki said while the road would be a public right-of-way, it’s primary purpose would be to carry industrial traffic.
Weirton City Manager Mike Adams expressed appreciation to U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., for their support of the funded projects in the region.
“That’s a testament to what they think of this area,” Adams said. “That’s their recognition that this is a special place.”
The city manager noted he believes a big selling point for the federal funds being provided was the amount of private funding already invested by the Frontier Group, which has amounted to close to $90 million to prepare the land.
“This site has tremendous potential,” Adams said, adding he feels it is only a matter of time before prospects make a decision to locate operations in the city.
Pat Ford, business development director for the Frontier Group of Companies, also expressed appreciation to West Virginia’s Congressional delegation, as well as to city officials and the BHJ, for their work in obtaining the funds.
“What’s exciting about this news is our voices are heard,” Ford said.
Ford said the Frontier Group has been meeting with numerous prospects about the property, with the potential for $1.2 billion in investment, but the construction of the road is needed for the efforts to move forward.
“There is not a week that goes by we’re not talking to someone,” Ford said, explaining prospects include both national operations planning to grow and international companies looking for a foothold in the U.S. markets.
Once the road is complete, it will further solidify transportation corridors through the region for roadway, river and rail.
“It’s multi-modal,” Paprocki said, adding the development also will further open industrial access in the northern parts of Hancock County and beyond.
In addition to the $4 million for the road project, the area also is set to receive $22.47 million for use in the planned expansion of the Weirton water treatment plant, $10.3 million for improvements to Follansbee’s wastewater treatment system, $1.96 million for water infrastructure improvements in the Beech Bottom Industrial Park and $4 million for improvements to a railroad bridge in the north end of Follansbee.