CHARLESTON, W.VA. -- A four-lane, 115-mile highway between Buckhannon and Virginia is the most important road the state could build to promote economic development, the state's economic director said Tuesday.

Appearing before the House Finance Committee, Lysander Dudley spoke specifically of the highway between Elkins and the Virginia line.

A 95-mile section of the proposed four-lane Corridor H needs to be constructed east of the Randolph County seat to the state line, and 20 miles remain to be built to the west between Buckhannon and Elkins, Dudley said.

Highways Department spokesman John Gallagher said it would cost $638 million to complete the road, about $200 million more than Gov. Arch Moore anticipates will be in the entire DOH budget. Just two small portions of the road have been upgraded to four-lane status.

Dudley said the road's improvement could open the east-central mountains of waves of skiers from the Washington, D.C., area. Snowshoe and Silver Creek ski resorts are south of Elkins, while Canaan Valley and Timberline resorts are north of the city. All would be served by the highway.

"Corridor H is the most important road in the state," Dudley told the committee.

The road's completion through some of the most rugged terrain in the state would help expand commerce, tourism and recreation in the east-central mountains, Dudley said.

Virginia has promised to add a connecting link on its side of the border to Interstate 81 if West Virginia completes its section of the roadway.

On other matters, Dudley said that Moore, who recently returned from a three-nation trip to Asia, "will be making an announcement very shortly" about a state trade office in the Far East.