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Author Topic: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)  (Read 37048 times)

Super Mateo

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #50 on: August 27, 2018, 07:18:22 PM »

The I-73/I-74 Corridor thing is all marketing. It's never going to be an Interstate. WVDOH has been building it as at-grade, in some cases just 2 lanes (like west of WV 44).

Completing the highway up to WV 123 would form a Bluefield bypass (taking WV 123 back to US 52), which would be useful. I also support the other project in the works, finishing the section from WV 44 to Gilbert Creek Road to replace the current Horsepen Mountain crossing, which is the worst piece of the current route. Other than that, aside from some spot improvements here and there, the existing alignment is adequate.

Add in completion from Prichard to I-64 and 100% agree.  Building an actual 4 lane, interstate or at-grade, the entire length simply serves no purpose.

They need to do something to bypass Williamson and connect to the west side of the new route on the ridgetop, and some improvements to the hill going into (southbound) or coming out of (northbound) Iaeger.

Williamson already has a bypass for through traffic: WV 65.

It's a longer grade coming north of out of Iaeger at 3 miles, but I don't recall there being anything particularly bad about it. The upper half of the grade has a climbing lane for northbound traffic.

Then they should just switch the alignments of US 52 and WV 65.  Going southbound on US 52 in Williamson felt like driving down an alley for a few blocks.  I can't imagine northbound would be any better.  That one way pair has no business being a US Highway, to the point where even Street View hasn't bothered to photograph it.  And yet, the Bluefield section was even worse.  There were no alley-like roads, but there are too many turns (with the quick right-left combo to join US 460 as the worst) and a good portion is on two lane arterials.  There are many better ways to route US 52 there.  Pick one.

I also agree I-73/74 probably will never happen, but I do know that it would be very helpful to me to connect the I-74 segments when I am going from Chicagoland to the Sand Hills region of North Carolina.  That would also take me off the Turnpike (even though that was quite the enjoyable drive), which is a situation WV probably wants to avoid (that is, losing toll money to another road).
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hbelkins

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #51 on: August 28, 2018, 09:55:21 PM »

Best solution for US 52 in Bluefield would be to route it on Cherry Street/Maryland Avenue out to US 460, and let the old route be Business US 52. That's probably how most local traffic goes anyway.
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Bitmapped

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #52 on: August 30, 2018, 12:33:52 AM »

Best solution for US 52 in Bluefield would be to route it on Cherry Street/Maryland Avenue out to US 460, and let the old route be Business US 52. That's probably how most local traffic goes anyway.

Aside from WV not doing Business routes, Maryland Avenue is a narrow residential side street. It's not set up for through traffic. A better option would be to re-route US 52 to follow US 19 along Princeton Avenue from downtown Bluefield to US 460. This is signed as the truck routing now. It'll all be moot once the new section up to WV 123 gets built anyway.
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hbelkins

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #54 on: May 02, 2019, 01:52:38 PM »

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froggie

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #55 on: May 02, 2019, 01:55:01 PM »

Given precedent elsewhere, they'll probably use WV 123 as the "tie-in".
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SP Cook

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #56 on: May 02, 2019, 02:36:50 PM »

Given precedent elsewhere, they'll probably use WV 123 as the "tie-in".


I think that is correct.
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seicer

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #57 on: April 22, 2021, 12:45:59 PM »

I had the opportunity a while back to finally drive the 10 mile King Coal Highway segment south of Williamson towards Gilbert. I found it to be a high speed alternative to the existing US Route 52 alignment and was able to easily travel 65 MPH (although signed at 55 MPH) without interruption. Traffic, in general, was going at 65 MPH or above.

- The views on the King Coal Highway segment are astounding. We were greeted with valley fog on our drive and the views went on for miles upon miles. Don't think about the environmental consequence too hard on this drive - much of the route is on former mountaintop removal sites.
- There was inconsistent signage. Was it US Route 52 or not? Signs indicated it was in parts; in other areas, there was no signage.
- The WV Route 44 climb from US Route 52 west of Gilbert was one of the roughest roads I've driven on at high speed - and one that I had to slow down for. This road is roughly six years old and is already in need of pavement replacement. At several points, you can feel yourself lifting out of your seat  :spin: Below are some views of the settling which have gotten much worse since these were taken in 2016:
-- https://goo.gl/maps/9QZpUUp6XfHtCx9t6
-- https://goo.gl/maps/TvSy4wvAEtd7iE69A
-- https://goo.gl/maps/GX6GZKosYEDwiLsr6
-- https://goo.gl/maps/GPEYmoZif1S5ckJ78
- The King Coal Highway drive was much better and did not settle with the exception of the northern terminus.
-- Typical view: https://goo.gl/maps/nK6BtBdzF373TGyc7

Bitmapped

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #58 on: April 22, 2021, 01:06:38 PM »

I had the opportunity a while back to finally drive the 10 mile King Coal Highway segment south of Williamson towards Gilbert. I found it to be a high speed alternative to the existing US Route 52 alignment and was able to easily travel 65 MPH (although signed at 55 MPH) without interruption. Traffic, in general, was going at 65 MPH or above.

- The views on the King Coal Highway segment are astounding. We were greeted with valley fog on our drive and the views went on for miles upon miles. Don't think about the environmental consequence too hard on this drive - much of the route is on former mountaintop removal sites.
- There was inconsistent signage. Was it US Route 52 or not? Signs indicated it was in parts; in other areas, there was no signage.
- The WV Route 44 climb from US Route 52 west of Gilbert was one of the roughest roads I've driven on at high speed - and one that I had to slow down for. This road is roughly six years old and is already in need of pavement replacement. At several points, you can feel yourself lifting out of your seat  :spin: Below are some views of the settling which have gotten much worse since these were taken in 2016:
-- https://goo.gl/maps/9QZpUUp6XfHtCx9t6
-- https://goo.gl/maps/TvSy4wvAEtd7iE69A
-- https://goo.gl/maps/GX6GZKosYEDwiLsr6
-- https://goo.gl/maps/GPEYmoZif1S5ckJ78
- The King Coal Highway drive was much better and did not settle with the exception of the northern terminus.
-- Typical view: https://goo.gl/maps/nK6BtBdzF373TGyc7

The road settled badly within 2-3 years of opening. You could only go about 25mph on the WV 44 connector because of the bumps and dips before they did the asphalt overlays.

Was there any sign of recent construction or paving on the part of the King Coal Highway heading east/south from WV 44 towards Gilbert? IMHO, this was the part that should have been built first to bypass the climb up Horsepen Mountain coming from Gilbert. The other side on US 52 was previously rebuilt and not too bad.
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seicer

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #59 on: April 22, 2021, 01:29:31 PM »

I didn't see any construction although it's graded southward for miles - there may be more activity down that way.

hbelkins

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #60 on: April 22, 2021, 08:29:44 PM »

Last time I was on the WV 44 connector, it was settling badly. I think the effects of the settling become more pronounced when the road is concrete. With an asphalt surface, only the directly affected part breaks and settles. With concrete, the whole slab settles and the seams between slabs are very noticeable.

Is there much development out there now besides the new high school?

There was active construction beyond the WV 44 connector last time I was there, but the grade work may have been completed on to the southeast.

I'm not a fan of the climb on WV 65 to reach the new route, but if I'm going from Williamson to Gilbert I typically use US 119 to WV 73 to WV 10, and now that the WV 10 four-lane is completed to Man, it's even more preferable of a route. But the best and most direct route for me is not to go to Pikeville and then sharply northeast to Williamson, but to go through Inez to Kermit, and then use US 52 and WV 65 to get to US 119.
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seicer

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #61 on: April 23, 2021, 08:31:24 AM »

No - just the school. It's refreshing since roads in the area are otherwise fully developed except for on the steepest of grades. I'm not fond of the school site choice since it removes the school from the community and places it on a high-speed highway (that will be 65 MPH when fully complete).

GCrites80s

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #62 on: April 23, 2021, 12:04:28 PM »

Yeah putting schools all by themselves way out there makes it where zero kids can walk to school and hands the school system a permanent big bill for more buses and fuel.
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seicer

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #63 on: April 23, 2021, 01:41:37 PM »

It might be going more into tangent territory, but there was a study commissioned for West Virginia some years back that compared schooling costs of today versus the 1950s when you had the beginnings of regional-based schooling. You had the mass replacement of one-room schoolhouses with regional-based schools that often placed elementary and middle schools in towns, and high schools in the countryside between those towns. Children had access to more options in education and could pursue many more interests.

In the interest of saving money when fuel prices were cheaper, schools began consolidating middle and high schools into a single county building. This offered more options for students but it also increased transportation costs which became a serious issue during the fuel crunch of the 1970s and during the 2000s. Not often talked about is the distance that students have to travel just to get to school: some in West Virginia are on buses up to four hours a day.

And now we are looking at Wyoming County which is looking to consolidate multiple elementary schools that are in their communities with a single building that's not even near the county seat of Welch. All four buildings are in relatively poor condition but does moving the school out of the community offer better outcomes for students? Research says no. Does it save money? It's looking less likely, considering that many districts are facing a dire shortage of bus drivers and fueling costs are increasing.

hbelkins

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #64 on: April 23, 2021, 04:21:07 PM »

To be a relatively small state, West Virginia has always seemed to me to have rather large counties. And the county seats are not always centrally located. In this case, it's Mingo County. Williamson is the seat and it's hard against the western border of the county. Mingo is something of a long, narrow county. Off the top of my head, I can't remember how centrally located Welch is, but I know that in Kentucky, some of the smaller rural schools in some counties have closed and it results in very long bus rides for students. The closure of the old Rousseau Elementary in Breathitt County added 20 minutes one-way to the bus ride. Of course, buses were already running that route because there's only one high school in the county. Walking to school is not really a "thing" in rural mountainous counties.
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Dirt Roads

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #65 on: April 23, 2021, 07:25:38 PM »

Mingo is something of a long, narrow county. Off the top of my head, I can't remember how centrally located Welch is, but I know that in Kentucky, some of the smaller rural schools in some counties have closed and it results in very long bus rides for students.

Welch is the county seat for McDowell County, but is located in the extreme northern part of the county.  McDowell has consolidated into two high schools:  Mountain View (in Welch) and River View (in Bradshaw).
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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #66 on: April 23, 2021, 07:29:21 PM »

Mingo is something of a long, narrow county. Off the top of my head, I can't remember how centrally located Welch is, but I know that in Kentucky, some of the smaller rural schools in some counties have closed and it results in very long bus rides for students.

The worst situation in West Virginia is in western Randolph County.  It's a 70-mile drive from Pickens to Elkins, and even longer timewise for folks living down in Helvetia.  Pickens High School remains the smallest school in the state, now down to only 6 students in grades 9 through 12.  They had about 12 students back in the 1970s.
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GCrites80s

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #67 on: April 23, 2021, 08:41:54 PM »

I remember I had a roommate in college (early 2000s) who was from Rawl in Mingo County. In Ohio most school consolidation happened in the '50s and '60s. He told me that his schools had consolidated in the '90s and I was very surprised. It's basically an ongoing thing in WV to this day. It certainly affects where schools get built in relation to the speed and design of the roads schools get built on. In the '50s and '60s they would generally make sure the consolidated school was built or located in or very near a town. That all got thrown out by the '80s.

This goes for churches too. A few years back, we talked to a young mom in a restaurant who was driving through Ohio from somewhere in the New South, maybe North Carolina. She was disappointed that she saw so few churches during the Ohio part. "Where are your churches? I barely see any. Don't people here go to church?" I didn't know what to say but Mom did. She told the lady "Well this is the main road. The churches are in town." We were right on US 23. Where the lady was from she was used to seeing all the churches on the highways since everything is so much newer down there. Whereas on our U.S. routes everything old like that got bypassed. The previous 100 miles (at least) of the lady's trip before the conversation took place had to have been on U.S. routes and yes, you're not going to see very many churches on US-23 between Portsmouth and South Bloomfield, Ohio.
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GCrites80s

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #68 on: April 23, 2021, 08:47:47 PM »

To be a relatively small state, West Virginia has always seemed to me to have rather large counties.

Yeah even Wayne County seems and looks pretty big then you see Randolph, Pocahontas and Greenbrier Counties on a map and you're like "My god." Even Kanawha County is probably bigger than the largest Ohio or Kentucky county which has to be Pike.
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seicer

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #69 on: April 23, 2021, 11:21:33 PM »

Two hours from Ceredo and I was still deep in Wayne County tracing an old rail line. It felt worlds away and at that point, I was within 30 minutes of Williamson, the seat if the adjoining county.

An interesting bit about Williamson is that it was a tug of war with Matewan for the county seat title. And Williamson only came into being c. 1909.

sparker

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #70 on: April 24, 2021, 12:24:08 AM »

Now that WV's own Joe Manchin is perched in his senatorial catbird seat, I wonder if the King Coal route, as well as other in-state projects, might constitute a perk to get his support for whatever infrastructure bill finally emerges.  Don't think full resumption of the project as a future Interstate will come out of it, but maybe the high-speed 2-lane facility (on an alignment supporting 4) as pictured might well be extended down toward Welch or even Bluefield.  I suppose we'll see how that give & take goes over the next couple of years.
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seicer

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #71 on: April 24, 2021, 08:26:04 AM »

I'd be interested in seeing how it plays out. Earmarks were shushed some years back but are back as they can be useful tools in negotiations and didn't really add much to our public debt.

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #72 on: April 24, 2021, 11:05:31 AM »

I'd be interested in seeing how it plays out. Earmarks were shushed some years back but are back as they can be useful tools in negotiations and didn't really add much to our public debt.
Not sure how that little debt part works when they are outside normal apportionments.  I suppose it depends whether or not they count against a state's obligation limitation, which would be a loose accounting measure.

Fun thing is that it takes experts in federal funding to make that determination.  FHWA's main apportionment report in FMIS -- the W10A -- doesn't make this discernment with the program codes.  State DOT accounting departments have to dig deeper.

The short of it is that the system is definitely designed to give the impression that earmarks are "extra money," when that is not always the case...but in a lot of cases they are, meaning they could have an effect on federal debt.
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SP Cook

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #73 on: April 24, 2021, 01:42:13 PM »

As to consolidated schools, among the best things to ever happen to WV.  First, of course, the declining population makes it necessary, but I would argue, as a graduate of the coalfields schools of a bygone era, it is 100% the right thing to do anyway. 

Above middle school, all of my teachers in what today we call STEM, as well as in English, were simply incompetent.  I mean that in the LITERAL sense of that word.  They could not have passed a HS class taught in normal America in the subject they were teaching.  The last math class I took, 10th grade Algebra, consisted of the teacher and the smartest kid in the class trying to figure how to work the problem to get the answer in her book, because  SHE DID NOT KNOW HOW TO WORK THE PROBLEMS.  Incompetent.   I dropped the class, took shop math to get a credit to graduate, went to college and never looked back.   Same can be said for my science teacher who did not know basic science principles, or my English teachers who had never read a book, unless you count Harlequin Romances.

At least with consolidation, you can have a chance at providing a reasonable education to students that want to escape.

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Bitmapped

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Re: King Coal / Tolsia Highway (US 52)
« Reply #74 on: April 24, 2021, 06:18:58 PM »

Mingo is something of a long, narrow county. Off the top of my head, I can't remember how centrally located Welch is, but I know that in Kentucky, some of the smaller rural schools in some counties have closed and it results in very long bus rides for students.

Welch is the county seat for McDowell County, but is located in the extreme northern part of the county.  McDowell has consolidated into two high schools:  Mountain View (in Welch) and River View (in Bradshaw).

Welch is along the railroad, which is why many county seats in West Virginia are county seats. It's also along the US 52/Gary corridor, where the bulk of the population is because.

The original county seat at Perryville, now known as English, was more centrally located. It's relatively isolated nowadays but might eventually have better access if the Coalfields Expressway is ever completed.

Mingo is something of a long, narrow county. Off the top of my head, I can't remember how centrally located Welch is, but I know that in Kentucky, some of the smaller rural schools in some counties have closed and it results in very long bus rides for students.

The worst situation in West Virginia is in western Randolph County.  It's a 70-mile drive from Pickens to Elkins, and even longer timewise for folks living down in Helvetia.  Pickens High School remains the smallest school in the state, now down to only 6 students in grades 9 through 12.  They had about 12 students back in the 1970s.

It's about 40 miles from Pickens to Elkins. Helvetia is several miles closer along the route to Elkins. Pickens School is K-12 and received a new building in the last decade or so. Randolph County also maintains a K-12 school in Harman, which involves several mountain crossings along US 33 to get to Elkins, and there are two high schools (Elkins and Tygarts Valley) along the US 219 corridor.

To be a relatively small state, West Virginia has always seemed to me to have rather large counties.

Yeah even Wayne County seems and looks pretty big then you see Randolph, Pocahontas and Greenbrier Counties on a map and you're like "My god." Even Kanawha County is probably bigger than the largest Ohio or Kentucky county which has to be Pike.

Counties in the (historically) more densely parts of West Virginia tend to be smaller. In more rural areas, you'll generally see larger counties because there wasn't enough population to justify carving up the county after about 1870. WV's larger counties are about on par with what you'd see in comparable areas in Pennsylvania.

The reality is there aren't that many people in the rural parts of Randolph, Pocahontas, Greenbrier, and even Kanawha counties.
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