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Two projects among federal appropriations proposals

WEIRTON — Two area projects could be in line for federal appropriations with the passage of a fiscal 2022 budget by Congress.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Monday released a list of proposed funding opportunities, which he said are included in nine appropriations bills as part of the federal budget process.

Among the appropriations is funding to assist with the expansion of Weirton’s water service and renovations to a bridge aimed at supporting a developing port district in Brooke County.

As part of the proposals, the Weirton Area Water Board would be in line for a potential $22.47 million for an ongoing project which would expand the capacity of the city’s water treatment plant.

According to Weirton Utilities Director Butch Mastrantoni, officials from the Weirton Area Water Board, along with the Weirton Sanitary Board and City Council, had met with representatives of Manchin’s office, as well as staff from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, to discuss possible opportunities for support of the project.

“We wanted to get on their radar screen,” he said during a previous discussion on the meetings.

Current plans call for the city’s water treatment system to be doubled from its existing 4 million gallons per day capacity, with the project ready to go to bid next spring.

Also proposed is $4 million for the Port of West Virginia, based in Follansbee, to assist with improvements to a railroad bridge stretching from the north end of Follansbee into Ohio.

The port, operated by Empire Diversified Energy, includes the former Trimodal Terminal and Koppers properties in Follansbee.

Use of the bridge, officials say, would provide a link from the port site to rail lines in Ohio, and, in turn, other parts of the country.

“If we’re going to be a true Midwest distribution facility, we need access to those corridors,” Frank Rosso, chief executive officer, explained during a presentation to state officials in late July.

Port officials had estimated it would take $20 million to address the needs of the rail bridge.

“I am pleased to see the draft Democratic appropriations bills include many West Virginia priorities that I fought for including water and wastewater upgrades, healthcare and education investments, transportation projects and economic development opportunities for West Virginia,” Manchin said in the announcement. “While these draft bills are a first step, we must find a bipartisan compromise to pass a reasonable, fiscally sound spending bill. As I have said numerous times before, I will not vote for legislation that does not include the Hyde Amendment and I fully expect the final spending bill to include that language. These nine draft bills have huge wins for the Mountain State, and I will keep fighting to ensure West Virginia gets our fair share in the final spending bill. There is still work to be done, and I will continue to work with my bipartisan, bicameral colleagues to pass this vital legislation.”

In all, the proposed appropriations feature almost $140 million for 65 projects throughout West Virginia.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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