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Author Topic: Coalfields Expressway  (Read 38055 times)

GCrites80s

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #125 on: June 29, 2021, 11:07:31 AM »


I assume the move here is political - Justice gets to say he gave McDowell County its first four lane highway, and it more or less forces construction of the middle section. From a practical standpoint, it's a dumb move. Mullens to Pineville is probably the part of the road most needed (Mullens to Beckley already had good roads) and it's being built later.

I don't think JJ is thinking in future political terms at all.  He is term limited for 24, and would be 75 in 28. 

It is probably more the old tradition of building a middle section in order to force later decisions to connect the two.  Remember the first section of Corridor L was in Oak Hill. 

As to it being a dumb move, the entire project is a fool's errand, as it the King Coal Highway.   There is just no one and nothing there.  There is no economic potential.   The thing is that most anyone paying attention knows that, but its political suicide to tell people that. 

My read is that when the census tract and block numbers come out in a few months, we will see that part of the state lose something like a third of its representives in both state houses, which of course means there will be gains elsewhere (Charleston-Huntington suburbs, Morgantown, eastern panhandle) and that will be that. 
I'm still skeptical of the idea that building a piece with a gap "forces" building the rest.  Just look at the US 220/I-99 project in PA.  The freeway from Cedar Springs to Jersey Shore was built, but Jersey Shore to Williamsport and I-80 to Cedar Springs were left as gaps.  It's been that way for decades now, and there's no indication that the project will ever get done.  In fact, there are indications that it may have been fully cancelled.  The Mackeyville interchange was built with no provisions to widen US 220 to four lanes in that location, and there's now an upcoming project to make improvements to the existing divided highway between Jersey Shore and Williamsport instead of the originally planned freeway bypass.

Or look at the NY 17/I-86 project in NY.  I-86 exists from the PA line to US 220 and from I-81 to NY 79; there are also covered (for a decade) signs from NY 17K to I-84.  It also meets interstate standards around Kamikaze Curve and from NY 206 to NY 52.  By the logic that building the middle section forces the construction in the gaps, there should be a big push to get it upgraded and designated the whole way west of I-84... except there isn't.  Not even close.  In fact, the "TO" banners on the shields around Binghamton look quite permanent and have no provisions to be easily taken down later.

So no, building a middle section doesn't "force" the construction of anything.  Sometimes you're just left with gaps in the end.

The "force" concept is more philosophical as it applies to West Virginia specifically. As in the project will be considered "needed" to be done. There is quite a bit more of a monoculture in WV than in states like NY, PA and OH. It's not just things like racial and ethnic diversity, it's more of this thing of "we are going to do this" or "this is the way things are going to be". Sure dissent is allowed but it's not going to get in the way. Like when Gov. Wise cheated on his wife in the mid-2000s there was no question he was leaving office. It's something you can't fully appreciate unless you live there. So "forcing" is getting enough WV citizens to that tipping point where it "needs to be done".
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #126 on: June 29, 2021, 02:43:57 PM »

Would it have been possible for the Coalfields Expressway's eastern terminus to have been at the Interstates 64/77 junction? Given that WV 16/WV 97 from the present end of WV 121 to Interstates 64/77 is a five-lane undivided roadway with substantial development, it seems like an "unceremonial" ending for a highway like the Coalfields Expressway.
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seicer

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #127 on: June 29, 2021, 04:42:21 PM »

I've posted a GIS map from before on here but long-term the goal is to connect the Coalfields Expressway to the Interstate 64/77 junction. The existing route isn't terribly congested although it has a number of traffic lights.

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #128 on: July 01, 2021, 09:44:00 AM »

Would it have been possible for the Coalfields Expressway's eastern terminus to have been at the Interstates 64/77 junction? Given that WV 16/WV 97 from the present end of WV 121 to Interstates 64/77 is a five-lane undivided roadway with substantial development, it seems like an "unceremonial" ending for a highway like the Coalfields Expressway.

I've posted a GIS map from before on here but long-term the goal is to connect the Coalfields Expressway to the Interstate 64/77 junction. The existing route isn't terribly congested although it has a number of traffic lights.

I remember back in the early 1970s that Gov. Arch Moore was pushing to connect the larger county seats to Charleston with more direct roads branching from the then-incomplete Interstate system.  My folks laughed that we were trying to "catch up" with Kentucky. 

IIRC, there was a proposal to connect the Coalfields Expressway with a separate route to the Ghent exit (Exit 28 on the West Virginia Turnpike); the main route of US-121 would still go to the [South Valley Drive] exit (Exit 42).  It seemed to me that a direct route east really didn't help connect [people and stuff] to where it needs to go.  However, some states like Georgia seem to focus on connecting larger towns with shorter routes perpendicular to the Interstate system (probably because the "main road" was already perpendicular). 
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Mapmikey

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #129 on: July 01, 2021, 10:29:26 AM »

Would it have been possible for the Coalfields Expressway's eastern terminus to have been at the Interstates 64/77 junction? Given that WV 16/WV 97 from the present end of WV 121 to Interstates 64/77 is a five-lane undivided roadway with substantial development, it seems like an "unceremonial" ending for a highway like the Coalfields Expressway.



I've posted a GIS map from before on here but long-term the goal is to connect the Coalfields Expressway to the Interstate 64/77 junction. The existing route isn't terribly congested although it has a number of traffic lights.

I remember back in the early 1970s that Gov. Arch Moore was pushing to connect the larger county seats to Charleston with more direct roads branching from the then-incomplete Interstate system.  My folks laughed that we were trying to "catch up" with Kentucky. 

IIRC, there was a proposal to connect the Coalfields Expressway with a separate route to the Ghent exit (Exit 28 on the West Virginia Turnpike); the main route of US-121 would still go to the [South Valley Drive] exit (Exit 42).  It seemed to me that a direct route east really didn't help connect [people and stuff] to where it needs to go.  However, some states like Georgia seem to focus on connecting larger towns with shorter routes perpendicular to the Interstate system (probably because the "main road" was already perpendicular). 

Sounds like WV 154.
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Bitmapped

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #130 on: July 01, 2021, 01:06:49 PM »

Would it have been possible for the Coalfields Expressway's eastern terminus to have been at the Interstates 64/77 junction? Given that WV 16/WV 97 from the present end of WV 121 to Interstates 64/77 is a five-lane undivided roadway with substantial development, it seems like an "unceremonial" ending for a highway like the Coalfields Expressway.



I've posted a GIS map from before on here but long-term the goal is to connect the Coalfields Expressway to the Interstate 64/77 junction. The existing route isn't terribly congested although it has a number of traffic lights.

I remember back in the early 1970s that Gov. Arch Moore was pushing to connect the larger county seats to Charleston with more direct roads branching from the then-incomplete Interstate system.  My folks laughed that we were trying to "catch up" with Kentucky. 

IIRC, there was a proposal to connect the Coalfields Expressway with a separate route to the Ghent exit (Exit 28 on the West Virginia Turnpike); the main route of US-121 would still go to the [South Valley Drive] exit (Exit 42).  It seemed to me that a direct route east really didn't help connect [people and stuff] to where it needs to go.  However, some states like Georgia seem to focus on connecting larger towns with shorter routes perpendicular to the Interstate system (probably because the "main road" was already perpendicular). 

Sounds like WV 154.


This project is dead. The first two miles of Ghent Road were upgraded heading west from the turnpike but otherwise this was going to be largely a new alignment and there's nobody in the areas it would service.
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hbelkins

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #131 on: July 01, 2021, 02:31:01 PM »

Would it have been possible for the Coalfields Expressway's eastern terminus to have been at the Interstates 64/77 junction? Given that WV 16/WV 97 from the present end of WV 121 to Interstates 64/77 is a five-lane undivided roadway with substantial development, it seems like an "unceremonial" ending for a highway like the Coalfields Expressway.



I've posted a GIS map from before on here but long-term the goal is to connect the Coalfields Expressway to the Interstate 64/77 junction. The existing route isn't terribly congested although it has a number of traffic lights.

I remember back in the early 1970s that Gov. Arch Moore was pushing to connect the larger county seats to Charleston with more direct roads branching from the then-incomplete Interstate system.  My folks laughed that we were trying to "catch up" with Kentucky. 

IIRC, there was a proposal to connect the Coalfields Expressway with a separate route to the Ghent exit (Exit 28 on the West Virginia Turnpike); the main route of US-121 would still go to the [South Valley Drive] exit (Exit 42).  It seemed to me that a direct route east really didn't help connect [people and stuff] to where it needs to go.  However, some states like Georgia seem to focus on connecting larger towns with shorter routes perpendicular to the Interstate system (probably because the "main road" was already perpendicular). 

Sounds like WV 154.

Even though the site is offline, I still have those West Virginia numbering documents saved somewhere. If you want them, I can dig them up for you.
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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #132 on: July 01, 2021, 02:37:54 PM »

IIRC, there was a proposal to connect the Coalfields Expressway with a separate route to the Ghent exit (Exit 28 on the West Virginia Turnpike); the main route of US-121 would still go to the [South Valley Drive] exit (Exit 42).  It seemed to me that a direct route east really didn't help connect [people and stuff] to where it needs to go.  However, some states like Georgia seem to focus on connecting larger towns with shorter routes perpendicular to the Interstate system (probably because the "main road" was already perpendicular). 

Sounds like WV 154.

I've seen that on your website, but that's not what I remember.  It was a more direct route from near Rhodell in Raleigh County to the Ghent exit, roughly following Odd Road.  I can't find on Ducky; maybe someone will have more luck on a Google search.

The actual routing of the Coalfields Expressway ended up on the west side of Allen Creek, but IIRC one of the options ran alongside WV-16 roughly parallel to Tommy Creek and Stonecoal Creek, making a less complicated connection over to the Ghent exit.
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Mapmikey

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #133 on: July 01, 2021, 07:16:42 PM »

Would it have been possible for the Coalfields Expressway's eastern terminus to have been at the Interstates 64/77 junction? Given that WV 16/WV 97 from the present end of WV 121 to Interstates 64/77 is a five-lane undivided roadway with substantial development, it seems like an "unceremonial" ending for a highway like the Coalfields Expressway.



I've posted a GIS map from before on here but long-term the goal is to connect the Coalfields Expressway to the Interstate 64/77 junction. The existing route isn't terribly congested although it has a number of traffic lights.

I remember back in the early 1970s that Gov. Arch Moore was pushing to connect the larger county seats to Charleston with more direct roads branching from the then-incomplete Interstate system.  My folks laughed that we were trying to "catch up" with Kentucky. 

IIRC, there was a proposal to connect the Coalfields Expressway with a separate route to the Ghent exit (Exit 28 on the West Virginia Turnpike); the main route of US-121 would still go to the [South Valley Drive] exit (Exit 42).  It seemed to me that a direct route east really didn't help connect [people and stuff] to where it needs to go.  However, some states like Georgia seem to focus on connecting larger towns with shorter routes perpendicular to the Interstate system (probably because the "main road" was already perpendicular). 

Sounds like WV 154.

Even though the site is offline, I still have those West Virginia numbering documents saved somewhere. If you want them, I can dig them up for you.

I have them downloaded onto my website...don't recall if I got them from you earlier or found them through WebArchive but I have 1993 and 2015 versions, thanks...
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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #134 on: July 02, 2021, 10:43:52 AM »

Even though the site is offline, I still have those West Virginia numbering documents saved somewhere. If you want them, I can dig them up for you.

I have them downloaded onto my website...don't recall if I got them from you earlier or found them through WebArchive but I have 1993 and 2015 versions, thanks...

There are several other versions of these posted in the netherworld of WVDOH.  There is also the Reserved Route Log, which has a more recent listing of state route and county route numbers being held in reserve.  The 2019 Reserved Route Log includes some that didn't make the official TED 220-2 route listing:
  • WV-361 from Orgas to Chelyan (1998)(listed in Boone County, but not listed in Kanawha County)
  • WV-803 Clubhouse Road for Stonewall Jackson Lake (2002)
  • WV-806 Loop Road #2 in Logan and Raleigh Counties (2004)
  • WV-807 Loop Road #2 in Logan and Raleigh Counties (2004) (this number now being used on the St. Marys Bridge)
  • WV-808 Unknown road in Logan County (2011)
  • WV-479 Rivesville Connector to I-79 (undated)
  • WV-109 Mon/Fayette Expressway (undated, renumbered as WV-43)
  • WV-268 West Run Expressway in Monongalia County (undated)
  • WV-999 Wheeling Island Access Road (undated)
  • WV-804 Campground Road in Raleigh County (2004)
  • WV-805 Loop Road #1 in Raleigh County (2004)
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Tom958

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #135 on: July 02, 2021, 06:23:47 PM »

As you approach the end of the new section, the speed limit drops to 55 and then to 40. It ends in a 90-degree turn onto the Mullens Connector, which is signed as "To WV 54" and "To WV 121" rather than WV 121 proper. WVDOH did not build any stub of the mainlane past the interchange, so any future construction to extend the road will impact the mainline. The road basically ends in the side of the mountain, so a lot of earthwork is going to be required for an extension.

Heading into Mullens, the new connector is two undivided lanes (no climbing lane) and is quite twisty. It is signed for a mile-long 11% grade. I hate to see what this will be like in the winter. I suspect a lot of people will stick to WV 54 during bad weather.

The new road improves connectivity to Mullens, but I'm not sure how useful it is beyond that at this point. WV 97 is/was the preferred route from Pineville and beyond to Beckley because of its better alignment over WV 16 west/south of Mullens. I don't know that the new route really changes the arithmetic. WV 54 is already a relatively modern road between Mullens and Beckley. I think WVDOH would have been better off focusing its efforts west of Mullens or perhaps south/west of Pineville, where the new road would have represented more of an improvement over the existing network.

I'd like to think that the current connector at Mullens will eventually be removed, or at least be routinely closed in winter.

Just doing the math in my head, the connector road to Mullens must climb well over 500 feet. I suppose WV 54 climbs a bit as it heads north along the river from the connector, and the future expressway could descend another 132 feet if it dives into a 6% downgrade for the 2200 feet between its current end and where it would cross WV 54. Still, that's a vertical difference of about 400 feet at best. That suggests to me that there's not really a place for a reasonably benign connection from the expressway to the legacy road network anywhere near Mullens. Hopefully I'm wrong about that.

I guess I should get off my butt and research the situation, but for now I'll just say: building a new four-lane mountain expressway that's accessible only via a mile-long road on an 11% grade in a region with icy and snowy winters was a very bad idea. The recent announcement that the next phase of the expressway will be noncontiguous rather than extending the expressway to a more suitable access point seems to compound the mistake. What were they thinking when they decided to end the latest phase where they did? What are they thinking now?  :banghead:
« Last Edit: July 02, 2021, 06:33:42 PM by Tom958 »
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hbelkins

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #136 on: July 02, 2021, 07:04:09 PM »

There are some fairly steep connector roads in other places in West Virginia. The Scherr connector from US 48 to WV 93 comes to mind. Both sides of the WV 65 mountain connecting the new segment of US 52 in Mingo County are also examples.
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Tom958

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #137 on: July 02, 2021, 07:52:17 PM »

There are some fairly steep connector roads in other places in West Virginia. The Scherr connector from US 48 to WV 93 comes to mind. Both sides of the WV 65 mountain connecting the new segment of US 52 in Mingo County are also examples.

WV 65 is pretty extreme to the south, but not bad headed north toward old US 52. Also, WV 65 was relocated at considerable expense to create that intersection. I must surmise that, even with a mile of 10% grade, new 65 must be better than old 65, or they wouldn't have bothered with the full relocation. Tangential to the topic, but there are still Streetviews on old 65! You can pan around to see the WV 65 relocation under construction.

The one at Scherr I can't find the gradient on, but it's only 3000 feet long, much less than a mile. 

It's possible that the one at Mullens isn't the most extreme in the state, but it's still pretty extreme.
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Bitmapped

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #138 on: July 03, 2021, 12:22:13 PM »

As you approach the end of the new section, the speed limit drops to 55 and then to 40. It ends in a 90-degree turn onto the Mullens Connector, which is signed as "To WV 54" and "To WV 121" rather than WV 121 proper. WVDOH did not build any stub of the mainlane past the interchange, so any future construction to extend the road will impact the mainline. The road basically ends in the side of the mountain, so a lot of earthwork is going to be required for an extension.

Heading into Mullens, the new connector is two undivided lanes (no climbing lane) and is quite twisty. It is signed for a mile-long 11% grade. I hate to see what this will be like in the winter. I suspect a lot of people will stick to WV 54 during bad weather.

The new road improves connectivity to Mullens, but I'm not sure how useful it is beyond that at this point. WV 97 is/was the preferred route from Pineville and beyond to Beckley because of its better alignment over WV 16 west/south of Mullens. I don't know that the new route really changes the arithmetic. WV 54 is already a relatively modern road between Mullens and Beckley. I think WVDOH would have been better off focusing its efforts west of Mullens or perhaps south/west of Pineville, where the new road would have represented more of an improvement over the existing network.

I'd like to think that the current connector at Mullens will eventually be removed, or at least be routinely closed in winter.

Just doing the math in my head, the connector road to Mullens must climb well over 500 feet. I suppose WV 54 climbs a bit as it heads north along the river from the connector, and the future expressway could descend another 132 feet if it dives into a 6% downgrade for the 2200 feet between its current end and where it would cross WV 54. Still, that's a vertical difference of about 400 feet at best. That suggests to me that there's not really a place for a reasonably benign connection from the expressway to the legacy road network anywhere near Mullens. Hopefully I'm wrong about that.

I guess I should get off my butt and research the situation, but for now I'll just say: building a new four-lane mountain expressway that's accessible only via a mile-long road on an 11% grade in a region with icy and snowy winters was a very bad idea. The recent announcement that the next phase of the expressway will be noncontiguous rather than extending the expressway to a more suitable access point seems to compound the mistake. What were they thinking when they decided to end the latest phase where they did? What are they thinking now?  :banghead:

The Mullens connector is it and all that is ever going to connect to WV 54 at this location. It's not going to be closed in the winter, unless temporarily if it's a solid sheet of ice, because that's the only way to get to the road. Other mountain crossings on existing roads have comparable grades in this part of the state, although most have better sunlight exposure to promote melting snow and ice than this one does.

IMHO, building this section of the Coalfields Expressway was pointless. It duplicates existing good corridors (WV 54) and doesn't provide access to anything between Slab Fork and Mullens. After the initial section, which serves as a Sophia/Lester bypass, they should have swung over to WV 54 or WV 16 and dualized/rebuilt one of those corridors. It would have provided better connectivity, required a lot less earthwork, and not resulted in a new terrain alignment to maintain during winter.

There are some fairly steep connector roads in other places in West Virginia. The Scherr connector from US 48 to WV 93 comes to mind. Both sides of the WV 65 mountain connecting the new segment of US 52 in Mingo County are also examples.

WV 65 is pretty extreme to the south, but not bad headed north toward old US 52. Also, WV 65 was relocated at considerable expense to create that intersection. I must surmise that, even with a mile of 10% grade, new 65 must be better than old 65, or they wouldn't have bothered with the full relocation. Tangential to the topic, but there are still Streetviews on old 65! You can pan around to see the WV 65 relocation under construction.

Other than having climbing lanes, the new route isn't appreciably better. The horizontal alignment is improved but it's much steeper. The old road ran through a gap that was several hundred feet lower. The road was relocated because, if the King Coal Highway is ever extended, Low Gap where the old road ran will be filled in.
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Mapmikey

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #139 on: July 03, 2021, 12:24:28 PM »

Even though the site is offline, I still have those West Virginia numbering documents saved somewhere. If you want them, I can dig them up for you.

I have them downloaded onto my website...don't recall if I got them from you earlier or found them through WebArchive but I have 1993 and 2015 versions, thanks...

There are several other versions of these posted in the netherworld of WVDOH.  There is also the Reserved Route Log, which has a more recent listing of state route and county route numbers being held in reserve.  The 2019 Reserved Route Log includes some that didn't make the official TED 220-2 route listing:
  • WV-361 from Orgas to Chelyan (1998)(listed in Boone County, but not listed in Kanawha County)
  • WV-803 Clubhouse Road for Stonewall Jackson Lake (2002)
  • WV-806 Loop Road #2 in Logan and Raleigh Counties (2004)
  • WV-807 Loop Road #2 in Logan and Raleigh Counties (2004) (this number now being used on the St. Marys Bridge)
  • WV-808 Unknown road in Logan County (2011)
  • WV-479 Rivesville Connector to I-79 (undated)
  • WV-109 Mon/Fayette Expressway (undated, renumbered as WV-43)
  • WV-268 West Run Expressway in Monongalia County (undated)
  • WV-999 Wheeling Island Access Road (undated)
  • WV-804 Campground Road in Raleigh County (2004)
  • WV-805 Loop Road #1 in Raleigh County (2004)

All of the 8xx ones are Park and Forest Roads (which is why there is a WV 807...not the same system) and the 999 is a CO road.

I did find two more state routes WVDOT has in reserve - 737 (this is CR 7 out of Welch) and 620 in Putnam County (haven't figured out where this is yet).

These came from this page, which is a tool to come up with the correct internal designation for any existing route - https://gis.transportation.wv.gov/routeidbuilder/
Oddly enough, WV 154 is still in here, as is WV 125.  But the routes on the control cities pages are not.
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Dirt Roads

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #140 on: July 03, 2021, 06:51:11 PM »

I did find two more state routes WVDOT has in reserve - 737 (this is CR 7 out of Welch) and 620 in Putnam County (haven't figured out where this is yet).

I have a vague memory of an MTR post about WV-620.  Seems to me it was the unposted leg of the wye between WV-25 and WV-62 at Rock Branch (which is not there anymore).
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seicer

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #141 on: July 04, 2021, 06:35:12 PM »

I'd like to think that the current connector at Mullens will eventually be removed, or at least be routinely closed in winter.

Just doing the math in my head, the connector road to Mullens must climb well over 500 feet. I suppose WV 54 climbs a bit as it heads north along the river from the connector, and the future expressway could descend another 132 feet if it dives into a 6% downgrade for the 2200 feet between its current end and where it would cross WV 54. Still, that's a vertical difference of about 400 feet at best. That suggests to me that there's not really a place for a reasonably benign connection from the expressway to the legacy road network anywhere near Mullens. Hopefully I'm wrong about that.

I guess I should get off my butt and research the situation, but for now I'll just say: building a new four-lane mountain expressway that's accessible only via a mile-long road on an 11% grade in a region with icy and snowy winters was a very bad idea. The recent announcement that the next phase of the expressway will be noncontiguous rather than extending the expressway to a more suitable access point seems to compound the mistake. What were they thinking when they decided to end the latest phase where they did? What are they thinking now?  :banghead:

It's not that big of a deal. Having grown up down that way, there are not too many winters that produce enough snow or ice to worry about outright closures. And having lived in a snow belt in mountainous areas, cars can traverse steep grades without an issue. This being a primary route, it would most likely be cleared or salted. And the grade is no less steep than any other mountain crossing in the state.

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #142 on: July 05, 2021, 02:26:18 PM »


IMHO, building this section of the Coalfields Expressway was pointless. It duplicates existing good corridors (WV 54) and doesn't provide access to anything between Slab Fork and Mullens. After the initial section, which serves as a Sophia/Lester bypass, they should have swung over to WV 54 or WV 16 and dualized/rebuilt one of those corridors. It would have provided better connectivity, required a lot less earthwork, and not resulted in a new terrain alignment to maintain during winter.

How much of that route was mined for coal? Was that more of a consideration than actually building a useful road?
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Bitmapped

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #143 on: July 05, 2021, 04:38:19 PM »


IMHO, building this section of the Coalfields Expressway was pointless. It duplicates existing good corridors (WV 54) and doesn't provide access to anything between Slab Fork and Mullens. After the initial section, which serves as a Sophia/Lester bypass, they should have swung over to WV 54 or WV 16 and dualized/rebuilt one of those corridors. It would have provided better connectivity, required a lot less earthwork, and not resulted in a new terrain alignment to maintain during winter.

How much of that route was mined for coal? Was that more of a consideration than actually building a useful road?

I don't believe there was much or any coal mining done in conjunction with construction of this section. Much of the road is on the side of the mountain well down from the ridgeline. It's not like the Mingo County section of the King Coal Highway where they did mountaintop removal and then built the road where the original summit was.
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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #144 on: July 05, 2021, 07:06:21 PM »

I think there was strip mining along portions of that route but it was not a deciding factor in the route's alignment. If you look carefully along the drive, you'll see remnants of the original high walls where the strip mining had taken place. When you compare the aerials and maps at HistoricAerials.com, there are a few spots where the highway utilizes former gradings but it's only a small fraction of the alignment.

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #145 on: July 05, 2021, 11:47:44 PM »

So it's more of a PR or "added value" thing unless the work was used for truck and equipment access.
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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #146 on: July 06, 2021, 11:30:52 AM »

I think there was strip mining along portions of that route but it was not a deciding factor in the route's alignment. If you look carefully along the drive, you'll see remnants of the original high walls where the strip mining had taken place. When you compare the aerials and maps at HistoricAerials.com, there are a few spots where the highway utilizes former gradings but it's only a small fraction of the alignment.

The Winding Gulf area between Mullens and the outskirts of Beckley was very heavily mined for about 90 years, starting around 1910. On WV Geologic & Economic Survey's online map tool at http://www.wvgs.wvnet.edu/GIS/CBMP/all_mining.html, you can often see overlapping underground and surface mines along the general route of the Coalfields Expressway going after different seams.

My impression is that any mining remnants mostly predate the construction of the road. Basically, they mined coal they came across but otherwise the road was built where it was built.
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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #147 on: July 06, 2021, 05:26:40 PM »

I think there was strip mining along portions of that route but it was not a deciding factor in the route's alignment. If you look carefully along the drive, you'll see remnants of the original high walls where the strip mining had taken place. When you compare the aerials and maps at HistoricAerials.com, there are a few spots where the highway utilizes former gradings but it's only a small fraction of the alignment.

The Winding Gulf area between Mullens and the outskirts of Beckley was very heavily mined for about 90 years, starting around 1910. On WV Geologic & Economic Survey's online map tool at http://www.wvgs.wvnet.edu/GIS/CBMP/all_mining.html, you can often see overlapping underground and surface mines along the general route of the Coalfields Expressway going after different seams.

My impression is that any mining remnants mostly predate the construction of the road. Basically, they mined coal they came across but otherwise the road was built where it was built.

There must have still been a fair amount of recent mining activity, as the tracks between Beckley and Mullens are still intact.  CSXT owned the northern portion from Beckley to Winding Gulf (Raleigh Southern & Winding Gulf Subdivision, former Chesapeake & Ohio) and Norfolk Southern owned the southern portion from Mullens to Winding Gulf (Winding Gulf Branch, former Virginian Railway).  But similar to a previous comment, the railroad and WV-16/WV-97 are several ridges east from where the Coalfields Expressway was constructed.
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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #148 on: July 06, 2021, 06:55:33 PM »

It's a mixed bag down there. Several major lines and branches have been abandoned in the past few decades, and the Virginian Railway (now a part of Norfolk Southern) may be outright mothballed west of Beckley because of a lack of originating traffic. Under-ground and above-ground coal production is way down from even 20 years ago and isn't expected to rebound for a variety of reasons: power plant retirements because of environmental regulations and economics; the rise of natural gas; waning reserves that cannot be economically mined. Those tracks in the vicinity of the expressway may be active but the area but there are only a handful of mines operating and many more mothballed or closed.

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #149 on: July 08, 2021, 05:39:40 PM »

It's a mixed bag down there. Several major lines and branches have been abandoned in the past few decades, and the Virginian Railway (now a part of Norfolk Southern) may be outright mothballed west of Beckley because of a lack of originating traffic. Under-ground and above-ground coal production is way down from even 20 years ago and isn't expected to rebound for a variety of reasons: power plant retirements because of environmental regulations and economics; the rise of natural gas; waning reserves that cannot be economically mined. Those tracks in the vicinity of the expressway may be active but the area but there are only a handful of mines operating and many more mothballed or closed.

Norfolk Southern took the former Virginian main line from Princeton to Mullens out of service several years ago and leased the line from Mullens north to Deepwater to a short line to operate. If there is any coal to go east, it goes the long way around, down the Guyandotte River to Gilbert, then to the N&W main to go to Bluefield and beyond.

Despite the wild claims of the former guy that he would bring back coal, it isn't going to happen. In addition to the reasons mentioned (especially the coal-fired plant retirements -- upgrading old equipment just wouldn't have a good return for stockholders), coal has been mined for over a century. While there may still be reserves, it is deep, far from any mine mouth, and expensive to mine and move -- at least for steam coal. There is still a demand and market for metallurgical coal for steel production.

It is still possible to have a large coal truck encounter on a narrow West Virginia road.
 
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