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Author Topic: Coalfields Expressway  (Read 5890 times)

hbelkins

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Coalfields Expressway
« 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?
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NE2

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #1 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?
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codyg1985

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #2 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
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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #3 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!
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seicer

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #4 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.
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Beltway

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #5 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
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seicer

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2018, 09:00:31 AM »

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

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Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #7 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.
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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #8 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 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 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.
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hbelkins

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #9 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.
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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #10 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.
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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #11 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.
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #12 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.
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SP Cook

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #13 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.

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noelbotevera

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #14 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?
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kevinb1994

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #15 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.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2018, 07:21:55 PM by kevinb1994 »
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seicer

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #16 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.
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Beltway

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #17 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.
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Rothman

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #18 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.
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SP Cook

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #19 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.

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #20 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?
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seicer

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #21 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.
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hbelkins

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #22 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.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 04:30:38 PM by hbelkins »
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seicer

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #23 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.
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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #24 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. 
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