Since the DOH dropped its $187 million design/build bid, Walker said it has lost its GARVEE bond capacity for the project, which has since been allocated to other areas.
"GARVEE bonds are something we haven't used extensively in the past, but you're basically getting an advance of federal dollars," he said.
Toll booths might not be the only option, however. According to Walker, there is a possibility the project could be completed through a public-private partnership. The pilot program, launched in 2007, has been given the go-ahead by the state Legislature to proceed, Walker said, and would allow private entities or contractors to front all of the money necessary to finish a project, and the DOH would pay them over a given period of time.
"The Legislature has allowed us to take a look at this public-private partnership, and we're trying to find what projects could benefit by the "P3" concept," he said. "I don't know that we've arrived at that decision for Route 35 yet, but we certainly know that it would be on anyone's list."
Walker said while the DOH has not determined the project's eligibility for P3 yet, there is also the matter of finding a private partner with the bond capacity to foot the bill for such a large project.
"We think it's a feasible alternative; we're just trying to see where it works," he said.
Senate Bill 190, which was sponsored by Sens. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and Mike Hall, R-Putnam, and went into effect July 1, is the bill that will allow for P3 funding.
"It wasn't addressed with the specific purpose of finishing Route 35," Sen. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, told the Putnam County commission during its regular meeting Tuesday. "There's some language in it that can be construed as allowing that, so that's one of the avenues that they're seeking to explore."
According to commission president Joe Haynes, Mason County officials have penned a letter to the governor voicing their support of P3 funding -- something he said the Putnam County commission will likely also do.
"The completion of 35 is going to mean a lot to Mason County, Putnam County, Kanawha County -- to West Virginia as a whole," Haynes said. "I think there's a window of opportunity here, and we ought to be on board in saying that we support it."
Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.