Ellis County's proposed Northwest Business Corridor got a big boost Wednesday with a $6.5 million BUILD discretionary grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a release from Sen. Jerry Moran’s office.

The proposed $11 million Northwest Business Corridor north and west of Hays would improve three heavily traveled county roads in a busy industrial area, as well as the Exit 157 intersection where on- and off-ramps to Interstate 70 converge with 230th Avenue.

That would complement the City of Hays’ north Vine Street project, which was approved in last year’s BUILD grant cycle, providing an alternate route for large loads that cannot pass safely under the I-70 overpass.

Among the businesses along the Northwest Business Corridor, oilfield supply manufacturer Hess services has 360 employees and a steady stream of semitrailer rigs hauling equipment to and from North Dakota, Colorado and Texas on the narrow chalk roads as they are now.

“I am pleased to announce that I have helped secure a BUILD grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that will provide new resources to improve the Northwest Business Corridor,” Moran said in a statement. “The resources provided in this grant will allow for increased economic development in the region and help existing businesses expand through improved infrastructure that has the capacity for more freight. I look forward to continuing to work in close partnership with officials in Ellis County to see the corridor project through completion for the future of the community and all of Northwest Kansas.”