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Regional Boards => Ohio Valley => Topic started by: hbelkins on December 19, 2014, 07:30:46 PM

Title: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on December 19, 2014, 07:30:46 PM
Saw a few posts about the Coalfields Expressway (future US 121) in several threads but nowhere really appropriate to post the following link, so now the CFX gets its own thread.

http://www.kentucky.com/2014/12/19/3601860_ky-company-awarded-contract-for.html?sp=/99/322/&rh=1

If I'm reading this right, the road will be completed from Beckley to Mullens. What's under construction now? Anything easily visible or viewable?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: NE2 on December 19, 2014, 07:46:06 PM
Quote
Bizzack Construction, LLC of Lexington, Kentucky bid about $45 million for the project.
Was the company founded by Snoop?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: codyg1985 on December 22, 2014, 07:39:11 AM
I don't think there is anything under construction right now, but there are some sections where the grade and drain has been completed, but have yet to be paved: https://www.google.com/maps/@37.6525659,-81.3504698,5911m/data=!3m1!1e3
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Henry on December 22, 2014, 11:06:54 AM
Quote
Bizzack Construction, LLC of Lexington, Kentucky bid about $45 million for the project.
Was the company founded by Snoop?
:rofl: It sure sounds like one!
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on December 25, 2018, 02:34:34 PM
Based on the (newer) aerials on Acme Mapper (unsure on who the provider is now), work on the Coalfields Expressway is now extending down to WV 54 at Mullens. Based on the segment map, 7.7 miles are open, 6 or so miles are being graded, and probably another 3 or so miles are being grubbed from WV 54 east towards the Turnpike.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Beltway on December 25, 2018, 11:35:43 PM
I don't think there is anything under construction right now, but there are some sections where the grade and drain has been completed, but have yet to be paved: https://www.google.com/maps/@37.6525659,-81.3504698,5911m/data=!3m1!1e3

Reclamation/grading projects near Harmon, VA
https://www.google.com/maps/@37.2558296,-82.1777041,6583m/data=!3m1!1e3
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on December 26, 2018, 09:00:31 AM
The expressway is west-east, not going south to the barren town plot?
Title: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on December 26, 2018, 01:20:59 PM
I don't think there is anything under construction right now, but there are some sections where the grade and drain has been completed, but have yet to be paved: https://www.google.com/maps/@37.6525659,-81.3504698,5911m/data=!3m1!1e3

Reclamation/grading projects near Harmon, VA
https://www.google.com/maps/@37.2558296,-82.1777041,6583m/data=!3m1!1e3

That aerial imagery doesn't show what's going on south(east) of Breaks. There's some massive work being done where SR 609 crosses the mountain between Harman and Breaks. But that's on Corridor Q (US 460), not the Coalfields Expressway.

The expressway is west-east, not going south to the barren town plot?

US 460 and US 121 will run concurrently for a short stretch north(west) of Grundy.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: froggie on December 26, 2018, 04:39:59 PM
^^ The leg going south to the "barren town plot" is the planned connector road to VA 83 at Lovers Gap.  It's the route shown on this map (http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/resources/Bristol/US_Route_121_and_US_Route_460_Corridor_Q_map_updated_June_2017.pdf) as "County IDA Road".  The intersection with VA 83 was relocated and improved a few years ago with turn lanes and a short westbound climbing lane on VA 83.  GMSV has not been updated.

The map on this project brochure (http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/resources/Bristol/Route_460.121_design_public_hearing_brochure_June_2017.pdf) is the best I've found thus far that details out the proposed routing of US 460/Corridor Q including its concurrency with US 121.

The wavy east-west leg on the imagery Scott posted is part of that future US 121/460 concurrency.  The southern leg on that imagery, as noted above, is the proposed connector to VA 83.

As best as I've been able to determine, that imagery is the most recent and dates to October, 2015.  So there's nothing yet available to show the further progress on "Phase 2" of the US 460 relocation, or any progress that may have been made this year on the western 121/460 junction.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on December 27, 2018, 12:07:37 PM
^^

Judging from the VDOT project maps, looks like some work will have to be done to existing US 460 north of Grundy to bring it up to standards as part of Corridor Q. Of course, Virginia hasn't built its existing portions of Q to the same standards as either West Virginia or Kentucky, so I don't know what they'll do. Blast some hillside and put in two additional lanes between the end of the existing four-lane and the Coalfields intersection, I suppose.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Beltway on December 27, 2018, 12:40:35 PM
Judging from the VDOT project maps, looks like some work will have to be done to existing US 460 north of Grundy to bring it up to standards as part of Corridor Q. Of course, Virginia hasn't built its existing portions of Q to the same standards as either West Virginia or Kentucky, so I don't know what they'll do. Blast some hillside and put in two additional lanes between the end of the existing four-lane and the Coalfields intersection, I suppose.

US-460 new location 4-lane divided limited access highway between Breaks and existing US-460 at Grundy, part of which overlaps US-121.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: froggie on December 27, 2018, 01:24:18 PM
^^ The tie-in to the 460 Coalfields connector looks like it will be close to where the existing 4-lane undivided section on 460 ends....the vast bulk of the work to connect 460 to the Coalfields will be on new alignment.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: The Ghostbuster on December 27, 2018, 03:43:23 PM
I wonder if the Coalfields Expressway and/or the King Coal Highway will be completed anytime within the next 50-100 years. I suspect it might take even longer.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: SP Cook on December 27, 2018, 03:50:32 PM
I wonder if the Coalfields Expressway and/or the King Coal Highway will be completed anytime within the next 50-100 years. I suspect it might take even longer.

Obviously I will not be around to know, but my money is on no.   Unlike important projects like Corridor H and US 35, the Tolsia Highway/King Coal Highway serves no known purpose whatsoever;  the Coalfields Expressway makes a little more sense, but the money would be better spent in encouraging those who remain in that region to do what the majority have responsibly done.  Leave.

Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: noelbotevera on December 27, 2018, 04:05:12 PM
I don't even see the point for this highway...connect I-64/I-77 to US 23, which goes...where?

Sure, it's scenic, but I don't see how building a full fledged 80 some mile expressway to nowhere is supposed to stimulate economic growth or be a better route for through traffic.

I guess if you're from Eastern Tennessee and want to get to the New River Gorge?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: kevinb1994 on December 27, 2018, 04:18:24 PM
I don't even see the point for this highway...connect I-64/I-77 to US 23, which goes...where?

Sure, it's scenic, but I don't see how building a full fledged 80 some mile expressway to nowhere is supposed to stimulate economic growth or be a better route for through traffic.

I guess if you're from Eastern Tennessee and want to get to the New River Gorge?

US 23 has its southern terminus at Jacksonville, FL (here, which is where we moved to from North Jersey in late September 2017). Mackinaw City (which we have no intent on visiting anytime soon), MI is the northern terminus of US 23. Portsmouth (which we also have no intent on visiting anytime soon), OH was the original southern terminus of US 23. It has never changed its route in Florida, though at one time it was planned to extend south, maybe to Fort Myers, FL (one of our possible Gulf Coast retirement spots) via US 17, SR 19, SR 33, US 98, US 17, and SR 31.

It should also be noted that Jacksonville, FL (here) was the original southern terminus of US 17, and that US 98 was originally an intra-state route entirely within the Sunshine State, running east-west between Apalachicola, FL and Pensacola, FL along the Florida Panhandle aka West Florida. As a matter of fact, both US 29 and US 98 once ended at or close to each other within the city limits of Pensacola, FL from 1935-1936 (when the old, original aka 1926 US 331 had a brief multiplex with US 29, with both original southern termini at or close to the original western terminus of US 98 at Pensacola, FL) to 1955, when US 98 was extended west to Natchez, MS. The same thing can and should be said about both US 98 and US 319 once ending at each other within the city limits of Apalachicola, FL from 1933-1952, which is approx. 20 years.

Jacksonville, FL (here) was also once the original eastern terminus of US 90, and at first both US 17 and US 90 ended at or near each other within the pre-1967-1968 city-county consolidation limits of Jacksonville, FL until in or about 1932.

I wonder if people will confuse US 121 (currently signed as WV 121, NOT to be confused with VA 121, which was formerly an extension of old, original aka 1926 US 121, now a part of US 52, as part of the 1933 Virginia State Route renumbering) with the tri-state (FL-GA-SC) SR 121, especially since some see it as a de facto auxiliary route from U.S. Route 21 (US 21) in Rock Hill, SC. Efforts to have the road upgraded to such status have failed, however.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on December 27, 2018, 06:11:11 PM
I used to be a supporter of both projects, but it's hardly justified given the area's rapid economic and population decline (which started back in the 1950's). No highway will solve the economic dilemma and what major industry will locate in Welch, West Virginia? A prison? (It already has one.) A school along the King Coal? (It just built one.) I don't see how it could be tolled, either. It's not on a major thoroughfare, either, and a curious look at traffic counts on the major roads that both highways would replace indicate falling traffic that's pretty much well below 10,000 VPD. The only place I could find above 10,000 VPD is near Bluefield and along US 52/119 north of Williamson.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Beltway on December 27, 2018, 08:36:28 PM
I used to be a supporter of both projects, but it's hardly justified given the area's rapid economic and population decline (which started back in the 1950's). No highway will solve the economic dilemma and what major industry will locate in Welch, West Virginia? A prison? (It already has one.) A school along the King Coal? (It just built one.) I don't see how it could be tolled, either. It's not on a major thoroughfare, either, and a curious look at traffic counts on the major roads that both highways would replace indicate falling traffic that's pretty much well below 10,000 VPD. The only place I could find above 10,000 VPD is near Bluefield and along US 52/119 north of Williamson.

Buchanan and Dickenson and Wise counties (2010 populations 24,098 and 15,903 and 41,452 respectively) in Virginia could certainly warrant and benefit from this modern 4-lane highway of the Coalfields Expressway, which would have inter-regional highway status if connected to 4-lane US-23 on one end and I-77 in West Virginia on the other end.   That is a population of over 80,000 for those three Virginia counties.  Southwest Virginia counties generally have a lot more population than many people realize.

However, it will take $2.8 billion using coal synergy construction estimates to build the Virginia portion.  That is an enormous sum of money to spend for the traffic volumes that would use it.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Rothman on December 28, 2018, 09:05:03 AM
I used to be a supporter of both projects, but it's hardly justified given the area's rapid economic and population decline (which started back in the 1950's). No highway will solve the economic dilemma and what major industry will locate in Welch, West Virginia? A prison? (It already has one.) A school along the King Coal? (It just built one.) I don't see how it could be tolled, either. It's not on a major thoroughfare, either, and a curious look at traffic counts on the major roads that both highways would replace indicate falling traffic that's pretty much well below 10,000 VPD. The only place I could find above 10,000 VPD is near Bluefield and along US 52/119 north of Williamson.

Buchanan and Dickenson and Wise counties (2010 populations 24,098 and 15,903 and 41,452 respectively) in Virginia could certainly warrant and benefit from this modern 4-lane highway of the Coalfields Expressway, which would have inter-regional highway status if connected to 4-lane US-23 on one end and I-77 in West Virginia on the other end.   That is a population of over 80,000 for those three Virginia counties.  Southwest Virginia counties generally have a lot more population than many people realize.

However, it will take $2.8 billion using coal synergy construction estimates to build the Virginia portion.  That is an enormous sum of money to spend for the traffic volumes that would use it.
That population is spread across hundreds of square miles. 

If building roads and highways was a major factor in economic development, Binghamton, NY would be the San Francisco of the East...

...but it isn't.  You do need an industry that is eager or able to expand in the area first.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: SP Cook on December 28, 2018, 10:14:03 AM
The economic development potential of that area is virtually zero, no matter how many roads they build.  Simple economic geography teaches us that. 

The key is in the name of the road.  "Coalfields".  That area has one product (well two, as there is also a lot of natural gas, which is not a labor intensive product) to offer.  Coal. 

Now, lets look at places without the blessing of coal, but with similar topography.  Plenty of such places exist.  And?  And these are unopulated.  Because there is very little economic value to the land.  Mostly lumber and marginal agriculture. 

In the 1850 Census, McDowell was the least populated county in Virginia.  The history of the next 160 years is really simple.  People moved there to mine the coal.   The coal is gone.  Responsible people moved away.  The rest need some nudging.  A part of that, IMHO, is to let things like the current road system fall into disrepair.  There are still WAY too many people living in SW WV, SW VA, and E KY.  WAY too many.

Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: 1 on January 04, 2019, 02:14:55 PM
There are still WAY too many people living in SW WV, SW VA, and E KY.  WAY too many.

Where would you suggest that hbelkins move to?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on January 04, 2019, 02:21:29 PM
People began migrating from Appalachia in the 1950s during the first wave of mechanization of the coal industry. Over-the-Rhine, a historic neighborhood in Cincinnati, went from being primarily German-American to predominately Appalachian. Detroit, Cleveland, and Youngstown also saw a large influx of folks from Appalachia, too.

Migration is happening and there hasn't been anything to stop it, nor should there be. Coal jobs have been waning for 70 years now and if your primary industry leaves, so does your population base. Areas like McDowell County, West Virginia, which nearly topped 100,000 residents in 1950, barely hold on to 20,000 today and the drain isn't letting up.

Edit: McDowell County is now well below 20,000. I would not be surprised if it declines to 16,000 by 2020.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on January 04, 2019, 04:27:53 PM
And now, OTR is definitely NOT predominately Appalachian.

There are still WAY too many people living in SW WV, SW VA, and E KY.  WAY too many.

Where would you suggest that hbelkins move to?

I lived in Winchester for six years. Hated it. Yes, it's a growing town and yes, it's in the central part of the state and only 20 minutes from Lexington, but it was too big for my tastes. Since it was a bedroom community for me (I worked in Frankfort) I didn't know anyone there, especially not the community leaders.

Now that I'm back in my home county, I feel at home even though I don't know a lot of the people there now. The county judge-executive was two years ahead of me in school, and the mayor of the county seat is my cousin. If I have issues that need to be addressed, I have an inside track to having my voice heard.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on January 04, 2019, 09:55:43 PM
And now, OTR is definitely NOT predominately Appalachian.

It was but that shifted to African-Americans by the 1980s-1990s. I'd link to the National Register survey, but those listings are down during the federal government shutdown.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: sparker on January 07, 2019, 02:43:54 PM
If one steps back a bit and looks at the path of the Coalfields, one can see something of a continuum with US 19/ARC Corridor "L" at its NE end and US 23/continuing down to I-26 to the SW -- sort of an "alternate route" to I-77 and  I-81 to get from I-79 (and I-68 for that matter) down to eastern TN western NC.  But it would serve as just that -- a corridor through an economically depressed area rather than a conduit to that area.  Some marginal revenue might be gained from roadside services, but hardly enough to even come close to covering the overall (fiscal and environmental) costs of deployment.  Coalfields/US 121 can't realistically be viewed as anything but a "make-work" project, promising some employment during its construction phase -- but as far as having a lasting positive effect on the region, the prospects are pretty dim.  Even if it does draw more traffic than its most vehement skeptics assert, that will do next to nothing toward revitalizing a single-industry area that, as others have suggested, should have been weaned off its all-coal economic dependency long ago. 
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on January 07, 2019, 02:56:55 PM
This area has two things working to its advantage. One is an available workforce. These are chronically high-unemployment areas. The other is an abundance of available land for development on the sites of former surface mines. The big problem is getting raw materials in and finished products out. I'm not sure what could be manufactured in this area, but I would think that with the abundance of timber on the hillsides, lumber-related industry would work well.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: froggie on January 07, 2019, 11:00:07 PM
Quote from: hbelkins
One is an available workforce. These are chronically high-unemployment areas.

However, are they educated/skilled workers?  That's something employers look at as well.  And is one reason why several areas that DO have ready access to Interstate highways (not to mention rail) are suffering.

I don't know enough about the area to answer the above question, but in terms of economic development, it is one that needs to be asked and answered.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on January 07, 2019, 11:23:06 PM
The problem with an available workforce is that the skills may not match what is desired, and the workforce in much of Appalachia is wholly undereducated for many reasons that are beyond the scope of this thread. And while there is ample flat land on mountaintop removal sites, it's certainly not attracting industry. The Herald-Leader did a great article exposing many of Kentucky's industrial park developments and found that the majority were empty or vastly underused, especially in Appalachia, and it kind of boiled down to the chicken and the egg question: do you build out sites in hopes of attracting industry, or wait and hold out to build such a site of a developer is interested? And some of those sites may be unsuitable (https://www.kentucky.com/news/state/article223881685.html) if the ground isn't stable enough (stability on some large-scale mountaintop removal sites has long been an issue).
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on January 08, 2019, 10:46:14 AM
Part of the issue with these industrial parks in Kentucky has been that localities rushed to build spec buildings on them in the hopes that someone would move into them.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: VTGoose on January 08, 2019, 01:35:32 PM
If one steps back a bit and looks at the path of the Coalfields, one can see something of a continuum with US 19/ARC Corridor "L" at its NE end and US 23/continuing down to I-26 to the SW -- sort of an "alternate route" to I-77 and  I-81 to get from I-79 (and I-68 for that matter) down to eastern TN western NC.  But it would serve as just that -- a corridor through an economically depressed area rather than a conduit to that area.  Some marginal revenue might be gained from roadside services, but hardly enough to even come close to covering the overall (fiscal and environmental) costs of deployment.  Coalfields/US 121 can't realistically be viewed as anything but a "make-work" project, promising some employment during its construction phase -- but as far as having a lasting positive effect on the region, the prospects are pretty dim.  Even if it does draw more traffic than its most vehement skeptics assert, that will do next to nothing toward revitalizing a single-industry area that, as others have suggested, should have been weaned off its all-coal economic dependency long ago.

Gee, maybe all of us who live in this horrible part of the country should just crawl off and die.

U.S. 19 between I-79 and Beckley started out as a mostly two-lane highway, with four-lanes in some places, such as Oak Hill, Fayetteville (New River Bridge), and Summersville. It was just a corridor shortcutting around Charleston for north/south traffic. But as traffic increased, so did the need for services. For a long time, about the only convenient place to stop was the Dairy Queen in Summersville. But people saw a need for services and Summersville and Fayetteville have grown to serve the needs. Granted, working at WalMart may not be as lucrative as mining coal, but when jobs are scarce that may not be a bad thing.

As to this economically depressed area, there are people who aren't giving up on their home. Tourism is a growing industry in places and businesses are responding to the demand for food and lodging. A popular pastime, trail riding on ATVs, is attracting people to the region. There are also people who are discovering and opening areas for those who want challenges in rock climbing. Hiking trails are also growing as the land recovers from the ravages of the all-coal economic dependency of the past.

Just because the place appears dead doesn't mean it can't be helped by better roads.

Bruce in Blacksburg
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Beltway on January 08, 2019, 01:44:51 PM
Gee, maybe all of us who live in this horrible part of the country should just crawl off and die.

Like I pointed out the 3 Virginia counties that the CFX would pass thru have about 100,000 population total.  Arguments can be made about the cost justification for building the CFX about whether it can be justified.  But as one poster suggested that they all just move away, while some might do that, most probably see their roots in those counties for generations, and want to see some attempts at economic development. 

The ADHS highways certainly have been well justified, and only in about 2022 or 2023 will US-460 be completed, and that plan goes back to 1965.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: SP Cook on January 08, 2019, 01:51:16 PM

Gee, maybe all of us who live in this horrible part of the country should just crawl off and die.

U.S. 19 between I-79 and Beckley started out as a mostly two-lane highway, with four-lanes in some places, such as Oak Hill, Fayetteville (New River Bridge), and Summersville. It was just a corridor shortcutting around Charleston for north/south traffic. But as traffic increased, so did the need for services. For a long time, about the only convenient place to stop was the Dairy Queen in Summersville. But people saw a need for services and Summersville and Fayetteville have grown to serve the needs. Granted, working at WalMart may not be as lucrative as mining coal, but when jobs are scarce that may not be a bad thing.


Well, no.  First, the retail activity of the region you cite is today far less than during coal's peak.  Wal-Mart is not new retail, it is just replacing SOME of the local retailers that came before.  It was not created by the road, other than in the sense that it was logical to build it there, rather than somewhere else.  But more importantly, all retail is derivative of whatever the economic activity of the place is.  Put in a broad brush way, Wal-Mart workers (and everybody else, from teachers to electric company workers to police) ARE coal miners, because, but for the coal miners producing the real good, there is no reason to live there in the first place. 

As to roadside services, of course, roadside stores will sell some gas and food to those passing through.  If it were possible to build an underwater tunnel across the Atlantic, there would be such places as well.  That does not mean that the bottom of the ocean has economic potential.  The CE would just be, as well stated, a way THROUGH the Coalfields, a way for people and freight to get from one useful place to another useful place, through a place with no economic potential remaining.

Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: The Ghostbuster on January 08, 2019, 03:09:02 PM
Couldn't they build the highway completely as a two-lane road, assuming it needs to be constructed at all?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on January 08, 2019, 03:34:31 PM
Couldn't they build the highway completely as a two-lane road, assuming it needs to be constructed at all?

I suppose they could build the grade for four lanes, but just pave and complete two lanes (a la the Industrial Parkway in northeastern Kentucky). They tried building Corridor L (US 19) as a mostly two- and three-lane route, and ended up having to buy a bunch of property and do a lot of blasting  to widen it to four lanes. And now Kentucky is widening the two-lane portion of the Mountain Parkway and is having some of the same things happen, although the terrain is not nearly as steep as what US 19 traverses.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: sparker on January 08, 2019, 04:06:48 PM
I was simply iterating the realities of the regional situation -- not suggesting, as others have, that the area be generally vacated and left to rot.  I suppose a more efficient road through the area couldn't hurt -- but whether it (a) will justify its expense or (b) will actually make a difference regarding the economic prospects of the region are things that will likely be determined well down the road (no pun intended!).  Other things endemic to any regional remedies -- addressing social isolation, cleanup of coal-related detritus, re-education of the local workforces, and a myriad of other checklist items, will need to be dealt with before any progress can be made -- US 121 by itself won't even begin to do the trick.  And the idea of initial construction of 2 lanes on a 4 land ROW seems to be a valid way to get the corridor completed sooner than later -- get something on the ground before inflation eats away at the C/B calculus.  At least the road will have one thing going for it -- as planned, even as a 2-lane facility, it'll be a much safer way to traverse the region than most of the existing highways.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: froggie on January 08, 2019, 07:41:00 PM
Couldn't they build the highway completely as a two-lane road, assuming it needs to be constructed at all?

I suppose they could build the grade for four lanes, but just pave and complete two lanes (a la the Industrial Parkway in northeastern Kentucky). They tried building Corridor L (US 19) as a mostly two- and three-lane route, and ended up having to buy a bunch of property and do a lot of blasting  to widen it to four lanes. And now Kentucky is widening the two-lane portion of the Mountain Parkway and is having some of the same things happen, although the terrain is not nearly as steep as what US 19 traverses.

Given the level of earthwork necessary, I don't think you'd save all that much in building out only 2 lanes.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on January 09, 2019, 01:11:33 PM
Couldn't they build the highway completely as a two-lane road, assuming it needs to be constructed at all?

I suppose they could build the grade for four lanes, but just pave and complete two lanes (a la the Industrial Parkway in northeastern Kentucky). They tried building Corridor L (US 19) as a mostly two- and three-lane route, and ended up having to buy a bunch of property and do a lot of blasting  to widen it to four lanes. And now Kentucky is widening the two-lane portion of the Mountain Parkway and is having some of the same things happen, although the terrain is not nearly as steep as what US 19 traverses.

Given the level of earthwork necessary, I don't think you'd save all that much in building out only 2 lanes.

Having just driven KY 67 (Industrial Parkway) again this past weekend, I've often wondered about the thinking behind the decision not to build it as a full four lanes from the start.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on January 09, 2019, 01:14:30 PM
It has low traffic volumes, even a decade+ after it was completed. There are talks of widening it with Brady Industries *potentially* coming into East Park at the southern terminus.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on January 10, 2019, 08:07:12 PM
Couldn't they build the highway completely as a two-lane road, assuming it needs to be constructed at all?

I suppose they could build the grade for four lanes, but just pave and complete two lanes (a la the Industrial Parkway in northeastern Kentucky). They tried building Corridor L (US 19) as a mostly two- and three-lane route, and ended up having to buy a bunch of property and do a lot of blasting  to widen it to four lanes. And now Kentucky is widening the two-lane portion of the Mountain Parkway and is having some of the same things happen, although the terrain is not nearly as steep as what US 19 traverses.

Given the level of earthwork necessary, I don't think you'd save all that much in building out only 2 lanes.

Pavement construction isn't cheap. WVDOH is spending $39M to pave the already graded roadbed for 8.87 miles of Coalfields Expressway in Wyoming and Raleigh counties. There's a $70M paving project for 14.6 miles of US 35. If you don't need all four lanes to handle the traffic, there's a lot of money that can be saved upfront even if you do all the other earthwork and grading for the four lanes. There are also recurring savings of not having to patch, plow, and resurface the lanes.

I think the best bet would be to buy enough ROW upfront so you could do any construction necessary to blast/grade/build a second set later without impacting the first set of lanes. Land in most of these areas is cheap, especially when there's not already the highway adjacent to it. Spend a little more upfront on property now, bank the savings on maintenance costs, and build the second set of lanes way down the line if it ever becomes necessary.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on January 22, 2019, 11:23:46 AM
New photos of the Coalfields Expressway construction by Rodney Reed in a group I belong to:

(https://scontent-ort2-2.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/50826185_361795534552731_5734176232338096128_n.jpg?_nc_cat=108&_nc_ht=scontent-ort2-2.xx&oh=c412679fa498ebc80eeea9ca6a7674ef&oe=5CC79B51)

(https://scontent-ort2-2.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/50822291_361795564552728_7338198564360683520_n.jpg?_nc_cat=105&_nc_ht=scontent-ort2-2.xx&oh=ec8ef1ca8c338166041f2e88b15d468f&oe=5CFEF1CE)

(https://scontent-ort2-2.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/50949599_361795604552724_7252601635677929472_n.jpg?_nc_cat=110&_nc_ht=scontent-ort2-2.xx&oh=58b65c2ff5e08e7533c5875d3a3fcb2a&oe=5CF68EF9)

(https://scontent-ort2-2.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/50291348_361795641219387_6405709259719311360_n.jpg?_nc_cat=106&_nc_ht=scontent-ort2-2.xx&oh=3d1e5bac27277c15968b23d1037c52dc&oe=5CFE5C39)
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: codyg1985 on January 22, 2019, 12:47:40 PM
Where are these photos taken from?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on January 22, 2019, 01:31:04 PM
In this vicinity but unsure on specifics: https://goo.gl/maps/o1g7P6gDmL12
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: sparker on January 22, 2019, 05:37:08 PM
^^^^^^^^
Now -- would those black sedimentary layers shown in the picture of the Coalfields cuts actually be coal itself?  Would, of course, make the facility name particularly appropriate!   
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on January 22, 2019, 09:28:45 PM
It looks like it - much darker than the shale. I would assume that West Virginia partnered with coal excavators like they did with the King Coal Highway, allowing them to excavate the cuts for the coal and benching it to state standards.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: sparker on January 22, 2019, 09:37:29 PM
^^^^^^^^
Now -- would those black sedimentary layers shown in the picture of the Coalfields cuts actually be coal itself?  Would, of course, make the facility name particularly appropriate!   
It looks like it - much darker than the shale. I would assume that West Virginia partnered with coal excavators like they did with the King Coal Highway, allowing them to excavate the cuts for the coal and benching it to state standards.

Just the geologic aspects of this corridor along would make it, regardless of current warrant or potential traffic, a most interesting and unusual drive.  Just hope I'm still around to at least see a "drivealong" video once it's done!
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on January 22, 2019, 10:16:34 PM
It looks like it - much darker than the shale. I would assume that West Virginia partnered with coal excavators like they did with the King Coal Highway, allowing them to excavate the cuts for the coal and benching it to state standards.

The Coalfields Expressway has been done with more traditional contracting rather than working with coal companies. The contractor is expected to price the value of the coal they can extract into their bid, but it's road contractors building the highway. Bizzack got the last grade-and-drain contract for the Slab Fork-Mullens section in 2014.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on January 23, 2019, 08:56:12 AM
Gotcha. I wonder if this will connect to a road or just simply end into a hillside? Right now traffic dumps you onto a very narrow two-lane.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on January 23, 2019, 11:21:41 AM
Gotcha. I wonder if this will connect to a road or just simply end into a hillside? Right now traffic dumps you onto a very narrow two-lane.

Right now, the end of the usable part of WV 121 just ties into CR 34 (Slab Fork Road). The new section is going to end at WV 54 (or a new access road to it) on the north side of Mullens.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on January 23, 2019, 06:49:36 PM
Gotcha. I wonder if this will connect to a road or just simply end into a hillside? Right now traffic dumps you onto a very narrow two-lane.

Right now, the end of the usable part of WV 121 just ties into CR 34 (Slab Fork Road). The new section is going to end at WV 54 (or a new access road to it) on the north side of Mullens.

I guess they had to start somewhere, and the WV 16/97 "expressway" was already in place southwest of Beckley to tie into, but WV 54 as it exists now isn't a bad road to get from Mullens to Beckley. There are passing lanes on the hills, and generally gentle curves and wide shoulders. It's not the first section of road I would have built. I would have looked at the Pineville to Mullens section first.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on January 23, 2019, 11:28:22 PM
I guess they had to start somewhere, and the WV 16/97 "expressway" was already in place southwest of Beckley to tie into, but WV 54 as it exists now isn't a bad road to get from Mullens to Beckley. There are passing lanes on the hills, and generally gentle curves and wide shoulders. It's not the first section of road I would have built. I would have looked at the Pineville to Mullens section first.

Agreed. WV 54 was built in the 1950s, so it's a good high speed route. Really all that it needed was a bypass of Lester, which could have been done fairly cheaply. Now, you'll have two 55mph+ routes from Mullens to Beckley and then nothing decent west of Mullens for the foreseeable future.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on February 07, 2019, 09:02:41 PM
Ran across this photo of the Mullens WV 54 connector in a WV Facebook group today:
https://scontent.fagc1-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/51748906_2388331531186721_6476587391313248256_n.jpg?_nc_cat=110&_nc_ht=scontent.fagc1-1.fna&oh=6d669207f60dd15759075d2ba76a8dee&oe=5CECDD73
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: froggie on February 07, 2019, 10:50:45 PM
^ Looks like that image was taken from above here (https://www.google.com/maps/dir/37.6007346,-81.3799883//@37.6007106,-81.3801607,208m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!4m1!3e0).

Has that connector actually been built or is this a project rendering?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on February 08, 2019, 11:38:50 AM
^ Looks like that image was taken from above here (https://www.google.com/maps/dir/37.6007346,-81.3799883//@37.6007106,-81.3801607,208m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!4m1!3e0).

Has that connector actually been built or is this a project rendering?

That is the location. I'm inclined to think that's an actual photo given the shadows and apparent patches of ice from runoff on the rock cuts.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: froggie on February 08, 2019, 03:26:51 PM
The connector curve and intersection approach looks photoshopped in, though.  There are also no barricades closing off the connector.  And a recent article from October (https://www.register-herald.com/news/paving-contract-awarded-for-coalfields-expressway/article_493d3393-5a8c-5fd7-ab7f-b77baa905f9d.html) mentions the connector won't open until November.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Mapmikey on February 08, 2019, 08:35:26 PM
The trees to the right of the connector should be casting a shadow over part of the roadway - look how long the shadows of the telephone poles are....
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: X99 on April 26, 2019, 04:05:07 PM
^ Looks like that image was taken from above here (https://www.google.com/maps/dir/37.6007346,-81.3799883//@37.6007106,-81.3801607,208m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!4m1!3e0).

Has that connector actually been built or is this a project rendering?

That is the location. I'm inclined to think that's an actual photo given the shadows and apparent patches of ice from runoff on the rock cuts.
That seems like it might be a connector- to the old routing of WV 54 on the far side of Slab Fork.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: X99 on August 20, 2019, 11:07:24 AM
^ Looks like that image was taken from above here (https://www.google.com/maps/dir/37.6007346,-81.3799883//@37.6007106,-81.3801607,208m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!4m1!3e0).

Has that connector actually been built or is this a project rendering?

That is the location. I'm inclined to think that's an actual photo given the shadows and apparent patches of ice from runoff on the rock cuts.
That seems like it might be a connector- to the old routing of WV 54 on the far side of Slab Fork.
Update on my previous comment: Google Maps satellite view has updated. That's the connector, but I think the pavement markings are Photoshopped.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on August 20, 2019, 11:59:04 AM
You mean the markings at the current end of the Coalfields Expwy.? (https://goo.gl/maps/Tt3fV7F8GheXnZVh8) Those are legitimate markers. The rest south towards Mullens is graded but not paved.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: X99 on August 20, 2019, 12:33:56 PM
You mean the markings at the current end of the Coalfields Expwy.? (https://goo.gl/maps/Tt3fV7F8GheXnZVh8) Those are legitimate markers. The rest south towards Mullens is graded but not paved.
No, I was referring to the Mullens Connector on WV 54 south of Otsego. The road direction lines up with the Facebook picture linked at the top of response page 3.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: X99 on September 17, 2020, 09:23:34 PM
Any new progress on this route, or has it stalled?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: 74/171FAN on September 18, 2020, 09:24:10 AM
Any new progress on this route, or has it stalled?

It is planned to be extended to Mullens by the end of the year. (https://www.wvnstv.com/top-stories/progress-being-made-on-coalfields-expressway/)
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: STLmapboy on September 18, 2020, 10:23:32 AM
Any new progress on this route, or has it stalled?

It is planned to be extended to Mullens by the end of the year. (https://www.wvnstv.com/top-stories/progress-being-made-on-coalfields-expressway/)
What's the next phase after Mullens? Going down to Welch or Grundy? Has it been funded?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: The Ghostbuster on September 18, 2020, 01:59:54 PM
If the Coalfields Expressway is ever completed to US 23 in Pound, VA, I think it should remain a state highway in both states. They should ditch plans to make it US 121, since while it connects with the historic US 21 corridor, it won't connect with existing US 21. Of course, if the Virginia portion of the Coalfields Expressway were designated VA 121, the existing VA 121 from Fort Chiswell to Max Meadows would have to be renumbered or decommissioned. Given that the route is a little under 2 miles long, that shouldn't be a huge ordeal.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on September 18, 2020, 06:44:10 PM
If the Coalfields Expressway is ever completed to US 23 in Pound, VA, I think it should remain a state highway in both states. They should ditch plans to make it US 121, since while it connects with the historic US 21 corridor, it won't connect with existing US 21. Of course, if the Virginia portion of the Coalfields Expressway were designated VA 121, the existing VA 121 from Fort Chiswell to Max Meadows would have to be renumbered or decommissioned. Given that the route is a little under 2 miles long, that shouldn't be a huge ordeal.

This route would be better as an x23 or x52 than 121. Even an x19 or an x60 would be more logical.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: wriddle082 on September 18, 2020, 07:03:45 PM
If the Coalfields Expressway is ever completed to US 23 in Pound, VA, I think it should remain a state highway in both states. They should ditch plans to make it US 121, since while it connects with the historic US 21 corridor, it won't connect with existing US 21. Of course, if the Virginia portion of the Coalfields Expressway were designated VA 121, the existing VA 121 from Fort Chiswell to Max Meadows would have to be renumbered or decommissioned. Given that the route is a little under 2 miles long, that shouldn't be a huge ordeal.

This route would be better as an x23 or x52 than 121. Even an x19 or an x60 would be more logical.

Indeed, and US 121 should be used for FL/GA/SC 121, which is most likely why those state routes all share that number.  At the very least, improving the SC stretch of that highway would create a nice route from the Augusta area to the Charlotte area while avoiding Columbia.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Takumi on September 18, 2020, 07:40:34 PM
If the Coalfields Expressway is ever completed to US 23 in Pound, VA, I think it should remain a state highway in both states. They should ditch plans to make it US 121, since while it connects with the historic US 21 corridor, it won't connect with existing US 21. Of course, if the Virginia portion of the Coalfields Expressway were designated VA 121, the existing VA 121 from Fort Chiswell to Max Meadows would have to be renumbered or decommissioned. Given that the route is a little under 2 miles long, that shouldn't be a huge ordeal.
It could just be an extension of VA 94, which ends about of a mile south of the interchange.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: sparker on September 19, 2020, 06:17:46 AM
If the Coalfields Expressway is ever completed to US 23 in Pound, VA, I think it should remain a state highway in both states. They should ditch plans to make it US 121, since while it connects with the historic US 21 corridor, it won't connect with existing US 21. Of course, if the Virginia portion of the Coalfields Expressway were designated VA 121, the existing VA 121 from Fort Chiswell to Max Meadows would have to be renumbered or decommissioned. Given that the route is a little under 2 miles long, that shouldn't be a huge ordeal.

This route would be better as an x23 or x52 than 121. Even an x19 or an x60 would be more logical.

Indeed, and US 121 should be used for FL/GA/SC 121, which is most likely why those state routes all share that number.  At the very least, improving the SC stretch of that highway would create a nice route from the Augusta area to the Charlotte area while avoiding Columbia.


A US 323 designation would be both appropriate and easy to remember due to its repeating integers. 
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on October 01, 2020, 04:30:12 PM
Ribbon-cutting for the Mullens to Slab Fork section of the Coalfields Expressway occurred this afternoon:
The highway is supposed to open to traffic later today.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: The Ghostbuster on October 01, 2020, 05:15:10 PM
Do they have any dates on when more segments of The Coalfields Expressway might be constructed and completed? The way things are going, we may have to wait until The Orville is ready to launch before the whole road reaches US 23 in Pound, Virginia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Orville.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on October 01, 2020, 05:20:25 PM
Do they have any dates on when more segments of The Coalfields Expressway might be constructed and completed? The way things are going, we may have to wait until The Orville is ready to launch before the whole road reaches US 23 in Pound, Virginia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Orville.

The Justice administration is trying to expedite construction of the West Virginia part, but that's still going to take a decade or more. My recollection is that VDOT's timetable is pretty drawn out.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: SP Cook on October 03, 2020, 11:17:38 AM
Drove the road yesterday.  A few observations.

- As to signage, I don't care about all this fitting into the "correct" system of numberings.  The odd things about signage are that 121 just connects with the long existing 4-lane part of WV 54, and it ends at that point, about 4 miles from the Turnpike, which has no signages for the new road.  Clearly US 121 should end at the Turnpike if ever completed, and the mish mash of other road numbers put onto Valley Drive (I don't uses Klan names) should be removed.  Signage for the Turnpike exits should be redone totally.

- The road is pretty standard at the WV "corridor" style.   Traffic, of course, was near zero, as the road serves no real purpose and won't until many more miles are built.  Actually it just serves the small, near ghost town of Mullens in getting to Beckley now, even places elsewhere in Wyoming county would be better served to use the "old road".

- The road just ends at a rock face.  Not the typical deal where they at least grade a couple of hundred yards past the current end, so future construction is not right in the face of traffic.  The same deal as US 35 is today, which has caused many accidents. 

- The Mullens connector, which has no signed number, is about a mile and a third.  11% grade and very twisty.  And it dumps you out on WV 54 about 2 miles from actual Mullens. 

- With expressway mileage now in Wyoming, now only the most depressed of the coalfield counties, McDowell, now lacks any.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on October 03, 2020, 06:04:12 PM
The numbering is odd, and was odd even before the Coalfields Expressway's first segment was built. Coming east, WV 54 and WV 97 are concurrent, and WV 54 ends at WV 16. Yet WV 97 continues concurrent with WV 16 and ends at the WV Turnpike. Seems like it would make more sense to have both 54 and 97 end at WV 16, or have 97 end at 54.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Dirt Roads on October 03, 2020, 06:48:22 PM
The numbering is odd, and was odd even before the Coalfields Expressway's first segment was built. Coming east, WV 54 and WV 97 are concurrent, and WV 54 ends at WV 16. Yet WV 97 continues concurrent with WV 16 and ends at the WV Turnpike. Seems like it would make more sense to have both 54 and 97 end at WV 16, or have 97 end at 54.

Indeed, in older days WV-97 ended at WV-54, which ended at WV-16.  WV-97 is one of the newer state roads in West Virginia (about 1971) and originally ended at WV-10 just north of Pineville (which was still an important mining town back in those days).
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on October 04, 2020, 11:21:10 AM
- The road is pretty standard at the WV "corridor" style.   Traffic, of course, was near zero, as the road serves no real purpose and won't until many more miles are built.  Actually it just serves the small, near ghost town of Mullens in getting to Beckley now, even places elsewhere in Wyoming county would be better served to use the "old road".

This is the same problem the King Coal Highway has/would have. It's on a ridge and provides little connectivity to existing towns along the way.

The eastern part of the Coalfields Expressway is useful as a bypass of Lester and Sophia, but DOH didn't really do any upgrades to Slab Fork Road (to WV 54) or McKinney Mountain Road (WV 16) that would have facilitated this. After that, I think the new road has no connections until the Mullens connector.

- The Mullens connector, which has no signed number, is about a mile and a third.  11% grade and very twisty.  And it dumps you out on WV 54 about 2 miles from actual Mullens. 

Corridor H's connector WV 93 near Scherr is the same (long 10% or 11% grade) and the Corridor H connector to US 219 south of Parsons will also have a similar long grade. These are going to be bad in the winter. I also noticed from photos that parts of WV 121 go in deep cuts like WV 99 on Bolt Mountain, which is notorious for ice problems due to lack of sunlight.

The numbering is odd, and was odd even before the Coalfields Expressway's first segment was built. Coming east, WV 54 and WV 97 are concurrent, and WV 54 ends at WV 16. Yet WV 97 continues concurrent with WV 16 and ends at the WV Turnpike. Seems like it would make more sense to have both 54 and 97 end at WV 16, or have 97 end at 54.

I haven't seen how signage has been updated on Robert C. Byrd Drive, but last time I was through, DOH has "Local Traffic Only" signs trying to scare through traffic off the Coalfields Expressway. I assume that's been changed to WV 121/Mullens now.

I agree that numbering should be cleaned up near Mabscott. Cutting WV 97 back to its first intersection with WV 54 and extending WV 121 to the Turnpike makes sense. The bigger question really is if there need to be three state routes serving the Beckley-Mullens corridor. The Coalfields Expressway and WV 16 are supposed to eventually overlap to near Caretta, so maybe just move WV 16 onto the Coalfields Expressway and call it a day? Once you get south of Sophia, the only thing on WV 16 until Mullens are a couple of dying ghosts of coal camps.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on October 04, 2020, 06:17:25 PM
I've driven WV 16 between Beckley and Mullens twice, and WV 54 at least three times between those towns. WV 54 is definitely the preferred through route (or was, until the newest section of WV 121 opened) as it's on a better alignment and has some truck lanes.

Beckley to Pineville is better served by WV 97 than it is WV 10/WV 16 to Mullens, then your choice of route on to the east.

Last time I went east to Beckley using routes in southwest WV, I used WV 97 east from Pineville, because I'd only been on it once previously.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: SP Cook on October 05, 2020, 12:34:41 PM
As to WV 97, the original route ran from Pineville to a junction with WV 54 at Maben.  Later when CR 9 got some minor upgrades, it was extended from Pineville to a junction with US 52 near Gilbert.  This makes sense.  The rest is economic development foolishness.  The state built a number of state parks in not really that scenic places in the 60s and 70s.  One of these was Twin Falls.  A local pol came up with the idea that directions to the place were somehow "too complicated" and had 97 multiplexed onto 54 and then 16, ending at the turnpike.  It has not helped.

As to 16 and 54, 16 is a much older route.  54 and the relevant sections of 97 between Pineville and Maben, were not built until the late 60s.  54 and 97 are a much better route between Pineville and Beckley.

Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on October 05, 2020, 07:48:46 PM
Were some of the improvements to WV 97 between Gilbert and Pineville because of the lake nearby being built? A lot of that route looks like Corps of Engineers reconstruction work.

Last time I was through there, the PA 97 signs on the US 52 end of the route were still there.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on October 05, 2020, 11:51:02 PM
Were some of the improvements to WV 97 between Gilbert and Pineville because of the lake nearby being built? A lot of that route looks like Corps of Engineers reconstruction work.

Last time I was through there, the PA 97 signs on the US 52 end of the route were still there.

CR 9/WV 97 have always been on their present corridor. They weren't directly impacted by the construction of R.D. Bailey Lake. A small part near CR 9/1 and more where the road is next to the river by Baileysville are below the maximum flood control pool of the dam, but the water has never actually gotten high enough that they've been impacted.

There weren't any through routes that followed the river prior to it being dammed. Parts of the river had no parallel road at all, just the Virginian Railway that was relocated. CR 9/1 was extended and gained a bridge over the river to provide a connection to Coal Mountain after old CR 6/5 was flooded out. I'm sure the Corps paid for that construction and perhaps a bit of work on WV 97 where it intersects CR 9/1. Otherwise, I don't think there's much here the Corps would have needed to pay for. It's not like US 19 at Stonewall Jackson Lake where they had to build miles of new road because the old roadbed was flooded.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on October 06, 2020, 10:02:03 AM
Ribbon-cutting for the Mullens to Slab Fork section of the Coalfields Expressway occurred this afternoon:
The highway is supposed to open to traffic later today.

It's interesting to see WVDOH switch to using concrete for most of their highway projects again: Corridor H, King Coal Highway (the newest segments); Coalfields Expressway (the latest segment); US 35 (for much of it).
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: SP Cook on October 06, 2020, 01:10:32 PM
As to 97, the bridge at Baileysville, across from the 971 junction and about 1 1/2 miles from there towards Hanover that was wedged between the railroad and the river were rebuilt, more or less by just filling in material and build a new road that was several feet higher on the exact same alignment, by the USACOE.  The majority of the improvements to CR 9 occurred about a decade later, outside the flood plain between Baileysville and Pineville.   
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: sparker on October 06, 2020, 06:22:20 PM
Historically, Mullens was the west end of the historical Virginian Railway electrified section that extended from there to Roanoke, VA. -- essentially an electrified "conveyor belt" for coal from the region.  Mullens was a gathering point for local "mine runs"; trains ran east over the electrified Virginian all the way to the export docks in Norfolk or north to the New York Central "interchange" (where NYC locomotives replaced those of the Virginian) at Gauley Bridge in the New River gorge -- eventually ending up in Columbus, OH or points north of there.  The electrification was removed in the 1960's after Norfolk & Western bought out the largely parallel Virginian, and the northbound traffic was rerouted to the N & W main line along US 52 north into Ohio.  Mullens became a shadow of its former self at that point -- it's raison d'etre having been obviated by the system reconfiguration of the parent railroad. 
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on January 31, 2021, 03:15:26 PM
I drove the entire length of the Coalfields Expressway yesterday heading westbound. Starting from WV 16, WV 121 is now signed as the route to Mullens. WV 54 is now signed for Lester (I think). WV 121 now has two through lanes, leading to the west/south direction of Robert C. Byrd Drive being four lanes wide near the WV 16/WV 121 split.

I didn't observe any changes in the section over to Slab Fork Road that has been open for years.

Past Slab Fork Road, the road and shoulders are concrete all the way over to Mullens. Traffic was light - this could have been built as 2 lanes without any real problem. There were I think three places where there were "intersections" with access roads for adjoining properties, but there are no connections to other public roads in the 9-mile span until you get to the Mullens connector. The road was not built on top of the ridge as I had expected, but rather about halfway up the side of the ridge. There are a number of large rock cuts and some decent fills.

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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on February 01, 2021, 08:33:43 AM
Wasn't this section of the roadway developed in conjunction with the coal companies? Weren't they essentially strip mining on the side of the mountain? Or am I thinking of the King Coal Highway segment near Welch?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: SP Cook on February 01, 2021, 09:58:44 AM
Wasn't this section of the roadway developed in conjunction with the coal companies? Weren't they essentially strip mining on the side of the mountain? Or am I thinking of the King Coal Highway segment near Welch?

King Coal
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on February 01, 2021, 03:48:05 PM
Wasn't this section of the roadway developed in conjunction with the coal companies? Weren't they essentially strip mining on the side of the mountain? Or am I thinking of the King Coal Highway segment near Welch?

US 52 in Mingo County between Williamson and Gilbert. The coal companies were basically doing the grade work.

Anyone know the status of that route beyond the current end at WV 44?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: sbeaver44 on May 31, 2021, 02:35:24 PM
Reading (I want to say it was GribbleNation but I cannot find it) I recall that WV graded, but did not pave, the theoretical area where the Coalfields and King Coal highways would meet.

Gribblenation does mention it in 2 posts from 2008 that I can find, but I remember the page having a picture of the actual area. “The Coalfields/King Coal interchange has been completed but sits empty and unused until the two highways finally reach the three level interchange.”

1) Is this located behind FCI McDowell in the clearing north of Welch?

If the answer to 1 is yes:
2) Given the proximity to a Federal Correctional Institution, is there any LEGAL way to get back to the site of the proposed interchange (or see it from afar even)
3) Why was this even built so long ago?  Did they clear the land for the prison (and I guess a future Industrial Park)?
4) What would the interchange look like and does the presence of FCI McDowell and/or Indian Ridge Industrial Park change the design?

I may have a shot at passing that way in July, which is why I’m asking.   I’ve always been very curious about this random rural location that WV did work on for two highways that aren’t necessarily even close to becoming a reality through the area.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on May 31, 2021, 05:57:50 PM
Reading (I want to say it was GribbleNation but I cannot find it) I recall that WV graded, but did not pave, the theoretical area where the Coalfields and King Coal highways would meet.

Gribblenation does mention it in 2 posts from 2008 that I can find, but I remember the page having a picture of the actual area. “The Coalfields/King Coal interchange has been completed but sits empty and unused until the two highways finally reach the three level interchange.”

1) Is this located behind FCI McDowell in the clearing north of Welch?

If the answer to 1 is yes:
2) Given the proximity to a Federal Correctional Institution, is there any LEGAL way to get back to the site of the proposed interchange (or see it from afar even)
3) Why was this even built so long ago?  Did they clear the land for the prison (and I guess a future Industrial Park)?
4) What would the interchange look like and does the presence of FCI McDowell and/or Indian Ridge Industrial Park change the design?

I may have a shot at passing that way in July, which is why I’m asking.   I’ve always been very curious about this random rural location that WV did work on for two highways that aren’t necessarily even close to becoming a reality through the area.

Yes, this is near FCI McDowell. I believe you can get near the site on the access road, but I haven't tried myself. The only thing there is grading, and as far as I can tell, just grading for the Coalfields Expressway through lanes. There is nothing discernable for the King Coal Highway or an interchange itself.

My understanding is this is intended to be a "volleyball" interchange like at I-470 and US 250/WV 2 near Wheeling. The roadbed was built in conjunction with the prison and industrial park as it was more cost effective to do all of the grading for the entire site at one time. That's why the grading was done so long ago.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: sbeaver44 on May 31, 2021, 06:07:39 PM
Well that all makes sense!  Thanks!
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on May 31, 2021, 06:35:53 PM
^ Correct. I recall the volleyball interchange type based on a conversation with the Executive Director years ago.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: NE2 on May 31, 2021, 07:41:26 PM
That three level interchange stuff is a bunch of bullshit. If you check the plans, there is (or at least was several years ago) no clearing where the two will cross.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on May 31, 2021, 07:54:43 PM
I drove the new section of the Coalfields Expressway Saturday. It's now fully signed as WV 121/Mullens from WV 16/WV 54, but no signage for WV 97 on the overheads, even though that route continues concurrent with WV 16 to the  WV Turnpike, where there's an END WV 97 sign posted and has been for years.

The new section is paved with concrete and is signed for 65 mph. Unlike the previous ending at Slab Fork Road, there's no evidence of future construction beyond the endpoint. The road dead-ends into a mountainside at the access road to WV 54. There will probably be people who slam into that cliff despite a lane closure and the speed limit being lowered to 40 mph in advance of the turnoff to the connector.

That road is also concrete, and is steep (signed for 11% grade). Signage on WV 54 is TO WV 121.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on May 31, 2021, 08:52:20 PM
That three level interchange stuff is a bunch of bullshit. If you check the plans, there is (or at least was several years ago) no clearing where the two will cross.

Posted before but I'll post it again, the general location of the interchange will be at https://mapwv.gov/shpo/viewer/index.html?wkid=102100&x=-9078615&y=4506917&l=9 (red line is King Coal Highway, black line is Coalfields Expressway). The plans, at least 15 years ago, was for a Interstate 470-US Route 250 style interchange near Wheeling - or what is at the Southern Beltway-US Route 22 near Pittsburgh. I don't have those scans anymore.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: NE2 on May 31, 2021, 09:40:59 PM
Based on the FEIS it's a bit to the north, roughly 37.486679,-81.555523. There's a bit of clearing but it's certainly not the place Wikipoo claims with a photo.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on June 01, 2021, 09:51:26 AM
I realized that the link doesn't enable layers. Under References, check "WV DOT Routes" to show the proposed routings, which can still be amended until the final designs are completed.

I did peer back at the WV SAMB (2003) map and it shows the grading much more better than later years because of the overgrowth.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Tom958 on June 02, 2021, 06:18:24 AM
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.

I'd like to think that due consideration was given to extending the new segment to a point where access between the new highway and the old was far more user-friendly. I wonder where that might be.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Henry on June 02, 2021, 11:13:09 AM
Reading (I want to say it was GribbleNation but I cannot find it) I recall that WV graded, but did not pave, the theoretical area where the Coalfields and King Coal highways would meet.

Gribblenation does mention it in 2 posts from 2008 that I can find, but I remember the page having a picture of the actual area. “The Coalfields/King Coal interchange has been completed but sits empty and unused until the two highways finally reach the three level interchange.”

1) Is this located behind FCI McDowell in the clearing north of Welch?

If the answer to 1 is yes:
2) Given the proximity to a Federal Correctional Institution, is there any LEGAL way to get back to the site of the proposed interchange (or see it from afar even)
3) Why was this even built so long ago?  Did they clear the land for the prison (and I guess a future Industrial Park)?
4) What would the interchange look like and does the presence of FCI McDowell and/or Indian Ridge Industrial Park change the design?

I may have a shot at passing that way in July, which is why I’m asking.   I’ve always been very curious about this random rural location that WV did work on for two highways that aren’t necessarily even close to becoming a reality through the area.

Yes, this is near FCI McDowell. I believe you can get near the site on the access road, but I haven't tried myself. The only thing there is grading, and as far as I can tell, just grading for the Coalfields Expressway through lanes. There is nothing discernable for the King Coal Highway or an interchange itself.

My understanding is this is intended to be a "volleyball" interchange like at I-470 and US 250/WV 2 near Wheeling. The roadbed was built in conjunction with the prison and industrial park as it was more cost effective to do all of the grading for the entire site at one time. That's why the grading was done so long ago.
The way I see it, the unbuilt King Coal would've been I-73/I-74, but since WV has no intention of ever building it, there's no reason for the interchange to exist until the connecting road comes through eventually. However, it is a good compromise to have US 52 upgraded to at-grade expressway wherever possible, so there's that.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: NE2 on June 02, 2021, 11:48:06 AM
I realized that the link doesn't enable layers. Under References, check "WV DOT Routes" to show the proposed routings, which can still be amended until the final designs are completed.

I did peer back at the WV SAMB (2003) map and it shows the grading much more better than later years because of the overgrowth.

Which shows that the Coalfields data is imprecise. And there's no grading for the King Coal, which the FEIS puts on a straightened version of the ridgeline to the north: https://transportation.wv.gov/highways/engineering/comment/closed/kch-belodelbarton/SupportingDocuments/KingCoalFEIS/KING%20COAL%20FEIS_front.pdf p. 23
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on June 02, 2021, 02:20:58 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.


I'd like to think that due consideration was given to extending the new segment to a point where access between the new highway and the old was far more user-friendly. I wonder where that might be.


Most likely, WV 121 will cross over WV 54 via a rather tall bridge there, similar to how US 48 intersects WV 93, as WV 54 runs through a valley. There are a couple of stream crossings on WV 54 in that general area, along with the Mullens Elementary School.

Got my pictures from my trip uploaded. https://www.flickr.com/photos/hbelkins/albums/72157719325543773
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on June 02, 2021, 09:24:57 PM
I was surprised coming out of Beckley towards Mullens how much traffic was on WV 16/54. It was a pretty solid line of cars going west. I also got delayed with a coal mine letting out around then, too. At some point, they will need to install a turn lane at Slab Fork Road which is a convenient shortcut to WV 97.

Did you catch WVDOH repairing pretty much every joint replacement they conducted just a few years back on I-64 east of the Turnpike? Pretty much all of their repairs west of the Bragg interchange failed unlike the repairs east from Bragg.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: The Ghostbuster on June 03, 2021, 01:04:28 PM
I hope they run a Google Car through this area soon. The Coalfields Expressway [July 2019] Street View segment terminates at Slab Fork Rd. (County Highway 34). As for WV 121's new terminus at WV 54, no Google Car has penetrated that segment since October 2008.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on June 03, 2021, 04:56:20 PM
I hope they run a Google Car through this area soon. The Coalfields Expressway [July 2019] Street View segment terminates at Slab Fork Rd. (County Highway 34). As for WV 121's new terminus at WV 54, no Google Car has penetrated that segment since October 2008.

It's not Street View, but I have a bunch of pictures at https://www.flickr.com/photos/hbelkins/albums/72157719325543773
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: GCrites80s on June 04, 2021, 02:41:51 PM
I hope they run a Google Car through this area soon. The Coalfields Expressway [July 2019] Street View segment terminates at Slab Fork Rd. (County Highway 34). As for WV 121's new terminus at WV 54, no Google Car has penetrated that segment since October 2008.

The Google Car is clearly allergic to Appalachia as evidenced by its lack of coverage of the entire region. Don't expect anything soon. It will hit the same boring subdivision street in Cincinnati 5 times before it will cross the river.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: sparker on June 04, 2021, 04:03:47 PM
I hope they run a Google Car through this area soon. The Coalfields Expressway [July 2019] Street View segment terminates at Slab Fork Rd. (County Highway 34). As for WV 121's new terminus at WV 54, no Google Car has penetrated that segment since October 2008.

It's not Street View, but I have a bunch of pictures at https://www.flickr.com/photos/hbelkins/albums/72157719325543773

Outstanding pictures per your usual efforts!  Haven't spent much time in that neck of the woods except for Beckley, so it's mostly "virgin territory" for these eyes, so they're greatly appreciated.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on June 07, 2021, 09:47:55 AM
400 new road projects proposed because of the surplus, including a line for the Coalfields Expresway in Raleigh County: https://www.wvnstv.com/top-stories/more-than-400-road-projects-planned-if-funding-approved-by-wv-legislature/
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Henry on June 07, 2021, 10:37:31 AM
400 new road projects proposed because of the surplus, including a line for the Coalfields Expresway in Raleigh County: https://www.wvnstv.com/top-stories/more-than-400-road-projects-planned-if-funding-approved-by-wv-legislature/
Well, this is great news indeed! Hopefully there'll be more to come in the following years.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on June 07, 2021, 12:18:28 PM
400 new road projects proposed because of the surplus, including a line for the Coalfields Expresway in Raleigh County: https://www.wvnstv.com/top-stories/more-than-400-road-projects-planned-if-funding-approved-by-wv-legislature/
Well, this is great news indeed! Hopefully there'll be more to come in the following years.
400 new road projects proposed because of the surplus, including a line for the Coalfields Expresway in Raleigh County: https://www.wvnstv.com/top-stories/more-than-400-road-projects-planned-if-funding-approved-by-wv-legislature/

The Coalfields Expressway project is for resurfacing of the existing section from WV 16 to Slab Fork Road. Most of these projects are minor resurfacing projects and slide repair.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: The Ghostbuster on June 08, 2021, 11:57:40 AM
So it's not for extending the Coalfields Expressway further west, as was my assumption the "more than 400 projects" story.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on June 08, 2021, 01:56:05 PM
With it being Raleigh County, I was kind of hoping that it would have been preliminary work on the extension from Sophia to Interstate 64. But looking at the press release by the state, all of these projects are preventative and maintenance in nature.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on June 08, 2021, 05:01:43 PM
Is there really a need for a new route from the current end of WV 121 to the interstate? The current WV 16/97 has four lanes and a handful of traffic lights, but it's certainly not as congested as, say, Corridor G in the Southridge area.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: GCrites80s on June 08, 2021, 08:50:05 PM
With it being Raleigh County, I was kind of hoping that it would have been preliminary work on the extension from Sophia to Interstate 64. But looking at the press release by the state, all of these projects are preventative and maintenance in nature.

Fix it First.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on June 09, 2021, 04:33:26 PM
With it being Raleigh County, I was kind of hoping that it would have been preliminary work on the extension from Sophia to Interstate 64. But looking at the press release by the state, all of these projects are preventative and maintenance in nature.

Is there really a need for a new route from the current end of WV 121 to the interstate? The current WV 16/97 has four lanes and a handful of traffic lights, but it's certainly not as congested as, say, Corridor G in the Southridge area.

I doubt such a connection will ever be built. It's not needed. As HB said, the existing WV 16 alignment has two lanes in each direction and a good LOS.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on June 09, 2021, 04:34:35 PM
With it being Raleigh County, I was kind of hoping that it would have been preliminary work on the extension from Sophia to Interstate 64. But looking at the press release by the state, all of these projects are preventative and maintenance in nature.

Fix it First.

Basically. The roads are in such abysmal condition in much of the state that the public is up in arms about it. These dollars really just backfill for reduced gas tax revenue from the past year.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on June 09, 2021, 06:15:55 PM
With it being Raleigh County, I was kind of hoping that it would have been preliminary work on the extension from Sophia to Interstate 64. But looking at the press release by the state, all of these projects are preventative and maintenance in nature.

Fix it First.

Basically. The roads are in such abysmal condition in much of the state that the public is up in arms about it. These dollars really just backfill for reduced gas tax revenue from the past year.

There are tons of "Roads to Prosperity Project" signs installed along the backroads of West Virginia. Looks to me like many of the projects are resurfacing and bridge replacements on rural roads. My drive along Mingo CR 3/5/Wayne CR 41 from Lenore through Dingess to Wilsondale revealed a couple of those signs.

Let me say that I'm not a fan of WV's "mill and fill" method of patching. To me, it makes the road rougher. I prefer strip patching.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Dirt Roads on June 09, 2021, 07:48:46 PM
Let me say that I'm not a fan of WV's "mill and fill" method of patching. To me, it makes the road rougher. I prefer strip patching.

The spot patches where WVDOH chops out a square were called "Jayholes" in tribute to Jay Rockefeller, who was governor when this method started in the mid-1970s.  I hadn't seen any for quite a while, but they have started to return in the past few year.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: TheGrassGuy on June 09, 2021, 08:18:06 PM
I hope they run a Google Car through this area soon. The Coalfields Expressway [July 2019] Street View segment terminates at Slab Fork Rd. (County Highway 34). As for WV 121's new terminus at WV 54, no Google Car has penetrated that segment since October 2008.

The Google Car is clearly allergic to Appalachia as evidenced by its lack of coverage of the entire region. Don't expect anything soon. It will hit the same boring subdivision street in Cincinnati 5 times before it will cross the river.
Ditto many parts of the Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York :(
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on June 10, 2021, 10:23:22 AM
With it being Raleigh County, I was kind of hoping that it would have been preliminary work on the extension from Sophia to Interstate 64. But looking at the press release by the state, all of these projects are preventative and maintenance in nature.

Fix it First.

Basically. The roads are in such abysmal condition in much of the state that the public is up in arms about it. These dollars really just backfill for reduced gas tax revenue from the past year.

There are tons of "Roads to Prosperity Project" signs installed along the backroads of West Virginia. Looks to me like many of the projects are resurfacing and bridge replacements on rural roads. My drive along Mingo CR 3/5/Wayne CR 41 from Lenore through Dingess to Wilsondale revealed a couple of those signs.

WVDOH started installing signs branding everything they did, including previously planned and funded projects as well as routine maintenance, as "Roads to Prosperity" to support Jim Justice's reelection campaign.

Let me say that I'm not a fan of WV's "mill and fill" method of patching. To me, it makes the road rougher. I prefer strip patching.

The spot patches where WVDOH chops out a square were called "Jayholes" in tribute to Jay Rockefeller, who was governor when this method started in the mid-1970s.  I hadn't seen any for quite a while, but they have started to return in the past few year.

WVDOH made a big deal about doing this style of repair this year on their social media. The problem is they rarely tar-seal the edges of the patches, so water infiltrates the cuts and you get potholes there in a couple years. DOH also has a tendency to overuse patching like this - you'll get patches on top of patches leading to a rough surface like HB mentioned. At some point, they either need to do an overlay or a full-width mill-and-fill.

I'm partial to VDOT's skin patching technique, which was used here on US 250 in Highland County: https://goo.gl/maps/4Da49nXJP3xCBk8i9. They patch, then do a chip-seal overlay of the patched areas. It seems like this would be a lot faster and gives better protection against future failures. They have a video explaining the process at
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on June 26, 2021, 04:29:52 PM
Governor Justice has announced plans to forward with construction of the Pineville to Welch segment of the Coalfields Expressway. Pineville to Mullens is unfunded, so traffic will still have to take WV 16 between the parts of the highway. The part that overlaps WV 10 recently received some minor improvements (shoulder widening, minor curve realignments) but it remains a slog.

https://www.register-herald.com/news/state_region/bond-money-earmarked-for-coalfields-expressway/article_060c84eb-edfe-5be4-b8ce-6b539d4e8489.html

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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: vdeane on June 26, 2021, 10:18:30 PM
Governor Justice has announced plans to forward with construction of the Pineville to Welch segment of the Coalfields Expressway. Pineville to Mullens is unfunded, so traffic will still have to take WV 16 between the parts of the highway. The part that overlaps WV 10 recently received some minor improvements (shoulder widening, minor curve realignments) but it remains a slog.

https://www.register-herald.com/news/state_region/bond-money-earmarked-for-coalfields-expressway/article_060c84eb-edfe-5be4-b8ce-6b539d4e8489.html

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.
How does it "force" the construction of anything?  The only people who will care that there's a gap are the people who want to see the road built anyways and roadgeeks.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on June 26, 2021, 10:49:51 PM
Governor Justice has announced plans to forward with construction of the Pineville to Welch segment of the Coalfields Expressway. Pineville to Mullens is unfunded, so traffic will still have to take WV 16 between the parts of the highway. The part that overlaps WV 10 recently received some minor improvements (shoulder widening, minor curve realignments) but it remains a slog.

https://www.register-herald.com/news/state_region/bond-money-earmarked-for-coalfields-expressway/article_060c84eb-edfe-5be4-b8ce-6b539d4e8489.html

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.
How does it "force" the construction of anything?  The only people who will care that there's a gap are the people who want to see the road built anyways and roadgeeks.

You will have a gap between two four-lane routes. To me, the worst part of Mullens to Pineville is that portion of WV 16 between WV 54 and WV 10.

If I'm building a four-lane road out of Welch, I'm building the King Coal (US 52) because it seems to me that Welch is logically more connected to Bluefield than Beckley.

Also, after reading that story, what's planned for Corridor G/Davis Creek in the Southridge area? And what is the Beckley Z-way?

Also, I don't get the "US 23 to I-81" reference in the Coalfields Expressway story. If you take existing or proposed routes from Welch to Pound, you have to backtrack to the southeast to get to I-81 at Kingsport/Johnson City.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: froggie on June 27, 2021, 11:30:46 AM
The Beckley Z-Way appears to be an extension of the East Beckley Bypass (https://transportation.wv.gov/highways/engineering/comment/closed/BeckleyZWayBeaverToSouthEisenhower/Pages/default.aspx) south of I-64 to the Beaver vicinity.  The website refers to it as a "relocation of US 19" and maps suggest it would rejoin existing 19 near Old Crow Rd (CR 119/36).
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: SP Cook on June 28, 2021, 09:49:45 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. 
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on June 28, 2021, 10:19:02 AM
Governor Justice has announced plans to forward with construction of the Pineville to Welch segment of the Coalfields Expressway. Pineville to Mullens is unfunded, so traffic will still have to take WV 16 between the parts of the highway. The part that overlaps WV 10 recently received some minor improvements (shoulder widening, minor curve realignments) but it remains a slog.

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 thought the Welch to Pineville segment was quick relatively modern with many straightaways versus the Pineville to Mullens segment which is more or less snaking along a river - and with a lot more traffic. I wonder if the priorities are determined by cost - the grading by Welch is partly complete.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: vdeane on June 28, 2021, 01:49:34 PM

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 (https://www.google.com/maps/@42.1195568,-75.9546112,3a,15y,41.13h,92.08t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sFKF4fHqoUODNT7NhxLa29g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656) 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on June 28, 2021, 02:00:03 PM
The Mackeyville interchange was built with future provisions; the right-of-way is wide enough for four lanes with a barrier median, and the ramps would need to be reconfigured but that's not terribly difficult. As far as the improvements west of Williamsport, as far as I could read the tea leaves those are meant to be a band-aid to resolve the most immediate (safety) issues, not handle long-term capacity or system continuity.

But in West Virginia, there have been instances of gaps never being filled in - US 33's "racetrack" section the biggest example of that. That was partly because of environmental concerns, but it left the Elkins bypass incomplete. Thankfully, those "gaps" in Corridor H are being filled in West Virginia and hopefully, rising traffic levels on US 48 will force Virginia's hand at some point.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on June 28, 2021, 05:00:27 PM
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 (https://www.google.com/maps/@42.1195568,-75.9546112,3a,15y,41.13h,92.08t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sFKF4fHqoUODNT7NhxLa29g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656) 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.

Your examples are (mostly) 4-lane roads that largely provide adequate service for existing traffic. They just need conversions to full freeway, or in the cast of some parts of NY 17, minor upgrades so they can be designed as Interstates. The end benefit from the upgrades is relatively small. This is a far cry from the West Virginia examples where the existing roads are non-upgraded two-lane roads that are woefully inadequate for any through traffic, where a new alignment road would be a huge improvement over what exists now. I don't think the two can be reasonably compared.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: GCrites80s 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 (https://www.google.com/maps/@42.1195568,-75.9546112,3a,15y,41.13h,92.08t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sFKF4fHqoUODNT7NhxLa29g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656) 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".
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: The Ghostbuster 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Dirt Roads 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). 
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Mapmikey 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 (http://www.vahighways.com/wvannex/route-log/wv154.htm).
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped 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 (http://www.vahighways.com/wvannex/route-log/wv154.htm).


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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins 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 (http://www.vahighways.com/wvannex/route-log/wv154.htm).

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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Dirt Roads 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 (http://www.vahighways.com/wvannex/route-log/wv154.htm).

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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Mapmikey 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 (http://www.vahighways.com/wvannex/route-log/wv154.htm).

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 (http://www.vahighways.com/wvannex/route-log/wvroutelog1993.pdf) and 2015 (http://www.vahighways.com/wvannex/route-log/wvroutelog2015.pdf) versions, thanks...
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Dirt Roads 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 (http://www.vahighways.com/wvannex/route-log/wvroutelog1993.pdf) and 2015 (http://www.vahighways.com/wvannex/route-log/wvroutelog2015.pdf) 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:
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Tom958 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:
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Tom958 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 (https://goo.gl/maps/YJ6fCEboC5fbgxCt5) to the south, but not bad (https://goo.gl/maps/CoSku3c73c8YXHEL9[/url) 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 (https://goo.gl/maps/aViezse2UgEYcQkaA)! 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped 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 (https://goo.gl/maps/YJ6fCEboC5fbgxCt5) to the south, but not bad (https://goo.gl/maps/CoSku3c73c8YXHEL9[/url) 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 (https://goo.gl/maps/aViezse2UgEYcQkaA)! 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Mapmikey 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 (http://www.vahighways.com/wvannex/route-log/wvroutelog1993.pdf) and 2015 (http://www.vahighways.com/wvannex/route-log/wvroutelog2015.pdf) 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Dirt Roads 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).
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: VTGoose 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?
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: GCrites80s 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Dirt Roads 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer 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.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: VTGoose 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.
 
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on August 07, 2021, 11:32:42 AM
Capito says King Coal Highway, Coalfields Expressway are priorities for the state (https://www.register-herald.com/news/state_region/capito-says-king-coal-highway-coalfields-expressway-are-priorities-for-the-state/article_d53a24c1-ba19-57dc-9913-ba272fdbd77b.html)

The amount of money that will be available for work on King Coal Highway and the Coalfields Expressway has not yet been determined, but Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said both are priorities for the state.

Capito said during a virtual press conference Thursday $3.5 billion is included in the infrastructure bill for state highways, spread out over five years, and she knows both projects are touted by Gov. Jim Justice.

“Those big projects are in his priority plan,” she said, adding that the state already has a 10-year plan, a “pretty good road map” of where those priorities are.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on August 11, 2021, 10:00:45 AM
Preparations underway to begin Coalfields Expressway in McDowell (https://www.register-herald.com/news/state_region/preparations-underway-to-begin-coalfields-expressway-in-mcdowell/article_800b6bc7-663c-5360-adfa-db0ad05a0b87.html)

Preparations for construction of the (four-lane) Coalfields Expressway from Wyoming County to Welch are well under way.

Pack said DOH is “shooting for the spring” of 2022 to begin moving dirt for the project.

“That bond sale that made this possible means the project is being fast-tracked,” he said of the Parkways Authority bond sale that recently raised $423 million, $200 million of which was earmarked for the Coalfields Expressway extension to Welch. “We are finalizing the last right-ofway purchases that are necessary for the project.”

Pack said a two-lane connector will be constructed just west of Welch Community Hospital on Rt. 7 and it will go up on a ridge and ride that ridge to another connector that comes out on Rt. 16 in Wyoming County.

That is several miles and a substantial project, he said. “There are no bridges. It’s nothing but moving dirt around.”

Pack said the DOH is also already working on the design of the King Coal Highway intersection with the Coalfields Expressway at the McDowell County/ Wyoming County line.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: NE2 on August 11, 2021, 06:50:38 PM
Ah, the portion past the prison where no three-level diamond has been graded.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on August 11, 2021, 10:14:19 PM
Pack said a two-lane connector will be constructed just west of Welch Community Hospital on Rt. 7 and it will go up on a ridge and ride that ridge to another connector that comes out on Rt. 16 in Wyoming County.

That is several miles and a substantial project, he said. “There are no bridges. It’s nothing but moving dirt around.”

The McDowell/Wyoming county line is just north of the prison, not far from Welch. It sounds like this new section is pretty useless by itself - you might as well just stay on WV 16 in the valley rather than go up on top of the ridge to just come back down.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on August 12, 2021, 08:27:54 AM
Interestingly, I had no idea the Parkways Authority was selling bonds for these projects.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on August 12, 2021, 10:46:58 AM
Interestingly, I had no idea the Parkways Authority was selling bonds for these projects.

That's why tolls were increased on the Turnpike. There was weird cross-funding: general obligation bond dollars are paying for the Turnpike widening near Beckley, and Turnpike revenue bonds are paying for off-Turnpike projects in southern West Virginia.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Black-Man on September 08, 2021, 04:48:28 PM
That's why tolls were increased on the Turnpike. There was weird cross-funding: general obligation bond dollars are paying for the Turnpike widening near Beckley, and Turnpike revenue bonds are paying for off-Turnpike projects in southern West Virginia.

I talked to a guy who works for the Parkways Authority. Seems they 1) underestimated EZPass adoption and 2) even with (1) they overestimated the impact of the Turnpike revenue bonds and he sees a toll increase in the not-too-distant future using the "we're one of the cheapest toll roads in the region" line. I was asking about the Turnpike upgrading their archaic mainline toll barriers - something which was promised with the toll increase - and of course they have no funding for the modernization of even the Chelyan barrier (which is a nightmare during summer high-traffic weekends).
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on September 08, 2021, 05:06:35 PM
Justice determined to see King Coal Highway finished (https://www.register-herald.com/news/state_region/justice-determined-to-see-king-coal-highway-finished/article_a44d2cbb-e49b-5b1a-9661-41876f6c0f34.html)

"Gov. Jim Justice says he is determined to see three major highway projects in the state completed, including King Coal Highway.

[...]

All highways have sections complete with the King Coal Highway project in Mercer County that connects Interstate 77/Rt. 460 with Airport Road scheduled to be finished this year.

Once it is open to traffic, the new road will provide improved access to the Mercer County Airport. It will also provide a new route to the Hatfield-McCoy Trail for ATV tourists who travel to the region each week as they can exit I-77, go to Airport Road and then to Brushfork and Rt. 52.

The next section is going from Airport Road to Littlesburg Road and Montcalm, but no plans are yet in place on when that will be done.

[...]

The Coalfields Expressway will connect the Beckley area and I-77/I-64 with Rt. 460 in Buchanan County, Va., cutting across McDowell County.

Funding for a section from Mullens to Welch, which will cost $200 million, was obtained earlier this year through the sale of turnpike bonds

Joe Pack, state Division of Highways District 10 engineer/manager, recently said rights-of-way are being secured in the Welch area to make way for the highway."
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on September 08, 2021, 08:38:01 PM
That's why tolls were increased on the Turnpike. There was weird cross-funding: general obligation bond dollars are paying for the Turnpike widening near Beckley, and Turnpike revenue bonds are paying for off-Turnpike projects in southern West Virginia.

I talked to a guy who works for the Parkways Authority. Seems they 1) underestimated EZPass adoption and 2) even with (1) they overestimated the impact of the Turnpike revenue bonds and he sees a toll increase in the not-too-distant future using the "we're one of the cheapest toll roads in the region" line. I was asking about the Turnpike upgrading their archaic mainline toll barriers - something which was promised with the toll increase - and of course they have no funding for the modernization of even the Chelyan barrier (which is a nightmare during summer high-traffic weekends).

Parkways just needs to ditch the toll barriers and go full all-electronic tolling, but that's politically challenging because it would impact jobs.

If E-ZPass adoption is up that much, it would seem to point towards at least having full-time E-ZPass lanes all the time.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: SP Cook on September 09, 2021, 09:31:57 AM
- Justice is term limited, so his views on the subject get less relevant each day, but if you look at a map, a complete KC/Tolsia takes something like 15 miles off the existing I-77/I-64, while a completed CFE US 121 might take 25 off the existing I-77/ Corridor Q US 460, which still is incomplete in Virginia.  Both pass through areas of tiny population.  I certainly see no desire in Virginia to build the rest of Q, let alone this project. 

- As I understand it, the turnpike bonds deal is a sort of loophole.  They use general money to work on the turnpike and this create the legal fiction that the turnpike “owes” the state money, and thus can issue bonds to “pay back” that debt, thus avoiding the legal requirement that the tolls be taken off a road that was upgraded with 90% federal money and which was paid off in 1985.

- The turnpike toll booths, southbound, are overwhelmed on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (which says a lot about a lot) but other than that, seem adequate.  You might wait 90 seconds.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on September 09, 2021, 11:59:16 AM
That's why tolls were increased on the Turnpike. There was weird cross-funding: general obligation bond dollars are paying for the Turnpike widening near Beckley, and Turnpike revenue bonds are paying for off-Turnpike projects in southern West Virginia.

I talked to a guy who works for the Parkways Authority. Seems they 1) underestimated EZPass adoption and 2) even with (1) they overestimated the impact of the Turnpike revenue bonds and he sees a toll increase in the not-too-distant future using the "we're one of the cheapest toll roads in the region" line. I was asking about the Turnpike upgrading their archaic mainline toll barriers - something which was promised with the toll increase - and of course they have no funding for the modernization of even the Chelyan barrier (which is a nightmare during summer high-traffic weekends).

Parkways just needs to ditch the toll barriers and go full all-electronic tolling, but that's politically challenging because it would impact jobs.

If E-ZPass adoption is up that much, it would seem to point towards at least having full-time E-ZPass lanes all the time.

The 5 mph speed limit on even the E-ZPass-only lanes is frustrating.

There certainly isn't a lot of room for widening at Chelyan (I always called that one Cabin Creek) but it would be nice if they would at least tear down a couple of booths, install jersey barriers between the lanes, and let E-ZPass traffic pass through at a speed higher than 5 mph. Even 35 or 40 would be a better option.

- Justice is term limited, so his views on the subject get less relevant each day, but if you look at a map, a complete KC/Tolsia takes something like 15 miles off the existing I-77/I-64, while a completed CFE US 121 might take 25 off the existing I-77/ Corridor Q US 460, which still is incomplete in Virginia.  Both pass through areas of tiny population.  I certainly see no desire in Virginia to build the rest of Q, let alone this project.

Think Justice might be like Arch Moore and sit out a term, and then try to come back? Or is he done with politics, having dealt with the hassles over where he sleeps at night and stuff like that?

Regarding Virginia, I think they'll basically be forced to finish US 460 to Grundy. Kentucky will have its section of Q finished in a couple of years, and the section beyond the current end of the four-lane at Breaks is just waiting for surface. That traffic will have to be shunted over to Grundy somehow, and SR 609 between Breaks and existing 460 isn't designed to handle a large volume of traffic, nor bigger vehicles.

I'm still not sure where the future route will tie in to the existing four-lane near Grundy.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: Bitmapped on September 09, 2021, 02:24:40 PM
Think Justice might be like Arch Moore and sit out a term, and then try to come back? Or is he done with politics, having dealt with the hassles over where he sleeps at night and stuff like that?

No. Justice is done. Nobody in either party likes him much at this point and there are a number of ambitious Republicans who want their shot at the office. It's not like during Arch Moore's era when Moore was pretty much it for the WVGOP bench.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: SP Cook on September 09, 2021, 02:37:05 PM
I would agree with that, and add that Justice is currently 70.  Term limited in 24, he would be 77 in 28, and is not in the best of health. 

The other thing I would add, and mods I mean this in the context of civics, and not politics, is to look at the Census numbers.   The population loss sketches out to about five to six delegates (out of 100) and at least 2 or perhaps 4 state senators (out of 34) being reapportioned from that region to places like the eastern panhandle, and Putnam and Monongalia counties, which will, IMHO, greatly change the transportation priorities for a long time to come. 
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on September 09, 2021, 08:28:56 PM
Found my own answer, quite accidentally, to the question about connecting future US 460 to the existing route.


Looks like existing 460 will be widened for a short distance north of Grundy, and then use a new alignment to cross the river and climb the mountain.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: GCrites80s on September 09, 2021, 08:46:25 PM


- The turnpike toll booths, southbound, are overwhelmed on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (which says a lot about a lot)

The shift of native West Virginian migration patterns from Columbus, Cleveland and Pittsburgh to North Carolina (especially Charlotte) instead over the past 30+ years.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: hbelkins on September 09, 2021, 09:05:36 PM


- The turnpike toll booths, southbound, are overwhelmed on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (which says a lot about a lot)

The shift of native West Virginian migration patterns from Columbus, Cleveland and Pittsburgh to North Carolina (especially Charlotte) instead over the past 30+ years.


Not just West Virginia, but those areas of the Rust Belt that I-77 serves where Buckeyes have moved south but return back north for holidays.

Kind of in reverse of what Kentucky does, where people moved north but come back south for special occasions.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on September 10, 2021, 09:21:33 AM
During random summer days (weekdays even), I had to sit and wait at the southernmost toll plaza on the Turnpike for at least 20 minutes or more just to clear the EZ-Pass only lanes (which were backed up because you have to go 5 MPH through it).
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: GCrites80s on September 10, 2021, 12:51:24 PM


- The turnpike toll booths, southbound, are overwhelmed on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (which says a lot about a lot)

The shift of native West Virginian migration patterns from Columbus, Cleveland and Pittsburgh to North Carolina (especially Charlotte) instead over the past 30+ years.


Not just West Virginia, but those areas of the Rust Belt that I-77 serves where Buckeyes have moved south but return back north for holidays.

Kind of in reverse of what Kentucky does, where people moved north but come back south for special occasions.

The Research Triangle and NC schoolteaching jobs are big magnets for Rustbelters.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: seicer on March 24, 2022, 01:40:12 PM
Three Coalfields Expressway projects scheduled for construction (https://www.register-herald.com/news/state_region/three-coalfields-expressway-projects-scheduled-for-construction/article_36fd1870-e296-5580-8cb9-8eb77cadb5a1.html)

Construction will get underway on three Coalfields Expressway projects this year.

A five-mile segment from Welch to W.Va. 16, another five-mile stretch from Mullens to Twin Falls Resort State Park, as well as a three-mile link from Twin Falls toward Pineville are included in the state's 2022 road projects.

[...]

Right-of-way is currently being obtained for the Welch to W.Va. 16 segment as well as the Mullens to Twin Falls Resort State Park stretch, according to officials.

[...]

Next year, the environmental impact study will be completed on the seven-mile link from W.Va. 16 to Pineville, with construction scheduled to begin in 2026.

--

After completion after 2026, there will be 20 miles of new Coalfields Expressway finished from Mullens to Welch.
Title: Re: Coalfields Expressway
Post by: The Ghostbuster on March 24, 2022, 04:38:10 PM
Given that the project is proceeding at a snail's pace, I didn't expect to see any more segments to be built for decades. I still don't see it making it to US 23 in my lifetime.