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Author Topic: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)  (Read 841 times)

Dirt Roads

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Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« on: September 16, 2020, 12:42:20 PM »

[Reposted from the Decommissioning/Truncations that Disappointed you thread]
US-21 through west-central West Virginia.  Unfortunately, two facts killed the route:  (1) I-77 in Ohio resulted in the old routing being disconnected too many times; and (2) US-21 was entirely multiplexed with other US routes south of Charleston.  But the decommissioning of US-21 north of Charleston resulted in most of the suburban growth to push down into Teays Valley (my neck of the woods).  I might be wrong, but I think that out-of-state transplants would have been equally likely to relocate north of Charleston along the I-77 corridor if it were perceived to have been a major route alongside the interstate. 

[Reposted from the West Virginia thread]
In those days, there were only four major corridors into Charleston (which was a good-sized metro pushing 650K 275K).  US-60/WV-61 to the southeast along opposite sides of the Kanawha was too industrialized for growth.  WV-4/WV-14/US-119 along the west side of the Elk River was too hilly and curvy to develop.  US-60/WV-25 to the west along opposite sides of the Kanawha were already developed.  The I-64 corridor through Teays Valley was a no-brainer.  But US-21 was a bit curvy and hilly jumping over the ridge the first couple of miles, but the rest of way to Jackson County was/is perfect for development (as best of not-too-rough terrain as West Virginia can offer, mind you).  One more corridor worth mentioning:  US-35 northwestwardly from North Charleston never became a major corridor, and mostly stalled after being downgraded to WV-62 after the Silver Bridge collapse.

It is odd that after almost all of the development went west on I-64 into Teays Valley, that the population of Putnam County was relocated from the Charleston MSA to the Huntington-Ashland-Ironton-Portsmouth MSA.  It is further distance-wise and time-wise to downtown Honeytown.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 07:39:57 PM by Dirt Roads »
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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2020, 05:13:35 PM »

It is odd that after almost all of the development went west on I-64 into Teays Valley, that the population of Putnam County was relocated from the Charleston MSA to the Huntington-Ashland-Ironton-Portsmouth MSA.  It is further distance-wise and time-wise to downtown Honeytown.

1) Kanawha River

2) Visual gap between US-35 exit and the river in development density

3) Compared to Institute, Nitro, and S Charleston, Teays Valley is far less industrialized and reflects Milton, Hurricane, and Barboursville a lot closer

To me it always felt like Teays Valley fit with Huntington more than Charleston for these reasons, and they're only from my perspective but I think they make some sense at least.

I think this would better fit in the Urban Planning thread since it focuses more on the development of the metro rather than the roads themselves.
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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2020, 07:27:25 PM »

It is odd that after almost all of the development went west on I-64 into Teays Valley, that the population of Putnam County was relocated from the Charleston MSA to the Huntington-Ashland-Ironton-Portsmouth MSA.  It is further distance-wise and time-wise to downtown Honeytown.

1) Kanawha River
2) Visual gap between US-35 exit and the river in development density
3) Compared to Institute, Nitro, and S Charleston, Teays Valley is far less industrialized and reflects Milton, Hurricane, and Barboursville a lot closer

To me it always felt like Teays Valley fit with Huntington more than Charleston for these reasons, and they're only from my perspective but I think they make some sense at least.

Well, I grew up in one of only two families that I knew that actually worked in the Huntington area.  One of our friends worked for the Corps of Engineers, and my dad worked for a utility company in Ashland, Kentucky.  We were supposed to move closer for many years, but there was a rumor that the company would be eventually relocated to Charleston (and it did some 20 years later).  Until the development of the Huntington Mall (on I-64 east of Barboursville), most people shopped in: (1) Charleston; (2) St. Albans; (3) Parkersburg and (4) either Cincinnati, Columbus or Lexington.  Amazing.

I think this would better fit in the Urban Planning thread since it focuses more on the development of the metro rather than the roads themselves.

Makes sense.  Unfortunately, Urban Planning must be one of the hidden threads that I can't see when I'm reading.
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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2020, 07:28:42 PM »

Makes sense.  Unfortunately, Urban Planning must be one of the hidden threads that I can't see when I'm reading.

This forum keeps you logged in until you explicitly log out.
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Dirt Roads

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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2020, 07:39:23 PM »

In those days, there were only four major corridors into Charleston (which was a good-sized metro pushing 650K 275K). 

I need to correct this.  This population was the number I remembered from History class, but it doesn't make sense.  It its heyday, Kanawha County only had a total population of 239,639 (1950), 252,952 (1960) and 229,515 (1970).  If you include all of Putnam County (and perhaps you shouldn't), add another 21,021 (1950), 23,561 (1960) and 27,625 (1970).  Back in the day, Charleston was trying to bill itself as nearly as important as other metro areas in the region (Cincinnati, Lexington, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Charlotte).  No dice.
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Dirt Roads

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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2020, 07:45:30 PM »

This forum keeps you logged in until you explicitly log out.

In my world (control system safety), that sounds extremely risky.  It would be better if there were some way to view thread titles without granting access to them.  Anyhow, I am not opposed to relocating this thread somewhere that makes sense, even if I can't read it anymore.
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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2020, 09:47:46 PM »

This forum keeps you logged in until you explicitly log out.

In my world (control system safety), that sounds extremely risky.  It would be better if there were some way to view thread titles without granting access to them.  Anyhow, I am not opposed to relocating this thread somewhere that makes sense, even if I can't read it anymore.

Mods would be the ones to move the thread to the "Urban Planning and design" board (under "Non-Road Boards")

https://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?board=46.0
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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2020, 10:28:52 PM »

Makes sense.  Unfortunately, Urban Planning must be one of the hidden threads that I can't see when I'm reading.

This forum keeps you logged in until you explicitly log out.

Unless you don't check the "always stay logged in" box.

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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2020, 10:16:21 AM »


But the decommissioning of US-21 north of Charleston resulted in most of the suburban growth to push down into Teays Valley (my neck of the woods).  I might be wrong, but I think that out-of-state transplants would have been equally likely to relocate north of Charleston along the I-77 corridor if it were perceived to have been a major route alongside the interstate. 

But the old US 21 still exists, it is just signed as County 21.  But they could have signed it as Intergalactic 21 or whatever and that factor had nothing to do with the development of Putnam County as Charleston major suburb.

It is the schools.  Putnam County schools are AWESOME.  By paying the teachers more than any other place in the state, and having a close relationship with Marshall U, PCS picks the cream of the crop.  Very rare to see a teacher hired right out of college, most have to put in some time elsewhere and prove themselves before they can get on with PCS.

Meanwhile Kanawha County schools are awful.  The local powers that be just do not care.  They all live in the 99.9% white Charleston neighborhood of gated communities and limousine liberalism of South Hills.  Which is home to George Washington high school, created just after Brown v. BOE, to thus keep segregation for the rich going.  The only school in the county that is functional.  The stereotypical new couple that moves to the suburbs simply cannot afford to live there.   Suburban development up 77 would expose children to Sissonville schools, which is about like not attending school at all.   If you far enough to get out of Kanawha, then Jackson County schools are average by WV's low standards, but nothing like Putnam's.

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Dirt Roads

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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2020, 11:01:53 AM »

But the decommissioning of US-21 north of Charleston resulted in most of the suburban growth to push down into Teays Valley (my neck of the woods).  I might be wrong, but I think that out-of-state transplants would have been equally likely to relocate north of Charleston along the I-77 corridor if it were perceived to have been a major route alongside the interstate. 

But the old US 21 still exists, it is just signed as County 21.  But they could have signed it as Intergalactic 21 or whatever and that factor had nothing to do with the development of Putnam County as Charleston major suburb.

It is the schools.  Putnam County schools are AWESOME.  By paying the teachers more than any other place in the state, and having a close relationship with Marshall U, PCS picks the cream of the crop.  Very rare to see a teacher hired right out of college, most have to put in some time elsewhere and prove themselves before they can get on with PCS.

Meanwhile Kanawha County schools are awful.  The local powers that be just do not care.  They all live in the 99.9% white Charleston neighborhood of gated communities and limousine liberalism of South Hills.  Which is home to George Washington high school, created just after Brown v. BOE, to thus keep segregation for the rich going.  The only school in the county that is functional.  The stereotypical new couple that moves to the suburbs simply cannot afford to live there.   Suburban development up 77 would expose children to Sissonville schools, which is about like not attending school at all.   If you far enough to get out of Kanawha, then Jackson County schools are average by WV's low standards, but nothing like Putnam's.

No argument with you on why development in Putnam County has thrived.  Also, Putnam County always seemed to have a good balance of relaxed zoning mixed with almost no zoning.  But perhaps the biggest reason back in the 1960's and early 1970's was that the (then) South Putnam Public Service District had the only good water source for folks that didn't want to live in Charleston.  No joke, but my earliest memory is related to how bad the public water was in the Upper Roxlana section of Dunbar.

I have a good friend from high school in Charlotte, and he constantly talks about how amazed he is to look back and realize the secret that Winfield High School was academically good even back in the 1970's.  And things have certainly improved a lot in Putnam County since then.  But the school situation doesn't quite explain how Sissonville went from a small exoburb to "Buck Wild" after I-77 was completed into Charleston (but you certainly explained why they can't get good teachers out there).  That being said, folks from Putnam County also agree with your assessment of the ego surrounding the South Hills community. 

Since you brought up South Hills, I intentionally left out the Corridor G development because none of that was in play back in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.

p.s.  My aunt and uncle lived with the old Sissonville high school in their backyard, right up against the south grandstands.  Was fun to watch football practice.

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hbelkins

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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2020, 04:44:05 PM »

I would think the Corridor G development popped up because that four-lane route made that area accessible to a lot of people from the southwestern part of the state, as well as southeastern Kentucky. Right now I know people from Pike County who used to go to Lexington or Huntington, but now go to Charleston. Getting the final sections done (the bypass of Logan, and the portions between Town and Bent Mountains, and Bent and Coburn Mountains in Kentucky) did wonders. Not long ago I heard someone talking about how finishing 119 cut their drive from somewhere around South Williamson to Pikeville from close to an hour and a half to 30 minutes.

I remember when there was a Sam's Club at Cross Lanes. I'm not sure when it closed, but it was sometime after the one on Corridor G opened, and there were several years of overlap when both were open, IIRC.

Seems to me that the Teays Valley/Hurricane area is popular because it's equidistant to both Huntington and Charleston.

I haven't been to the Davis Creek/Southridge area in probably 15 years. I can't imagine how much it's grown, or how bad traffic has gotten out there.
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SP Cook

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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2020, 10:27:55 AM »

As to Corridor G, the area it passed through just south of Charleston, now called "Southridge" by developers, or just "Corridor G" as in "I'm going to shop out Corridor G", was pretty much unpopulated before the highway was built.  What few lived out there were mostly backwoods types, combined with some old hippies who wanted to grow their dope in peace.

When the road was finished, there was some housing development, but the main deal was retail.  Back in the 80s Charleston foolishly built a downtown mall, rather than the typical suburban mall that most metros of that size got, which was always inadequate and avoided by many (for example, most Putnam Countians who work and everything else in Charleston, shop at the Huntington Mall, a traditional suburban mall) back when malls were important.

Thus the land was quickly developed into four large strip malls.  The side effect of this, sadly, has been to cut the effectiveness of Corridor G itself for inter-regional transportation.  The last 10 miles of US 119 will take you at least 20 minutes at best, sometime far more, to connect to the interstate.  Remembering that the purpose of the system was to help people in rural Appalachia, not to provide access to a new mall, this is unfortunate.
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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2020, 05:12:18 PM »

As to Corridor G, the area it passed through just south of Charleston, now called "Southridge" by developers, or just "Corridor G" as in "I'm going to shop out Corridor G", was pretty much unpopulated before the highway was built.  What few lived out there were mostly backwoods types, combined with some old hippies who wanted to grow their dope in peace.

When the road was finished, there was some housing development, but the main deal was retail.  Back in the 80s Charleston foolishly built a downtown mall, rather than the typical suburban mall that most metros of that size got, which was always inadequate and avoided by many (for example, most Putnam Countians who work and everything else in Charleston, shop at the Huntington Mall, a traditional suburban mall) back when malls were important.

Thus the land was quickly developed into four large strip malls.  The side effect of this, sadly, has been to cut the effectiveness of Corridor G itself for inter-regional transportation.  The last 10 miles of US 119 will take you at least 20 minutes at best, sometime far more, to connect to the interstate.  Remembering that the purpose of the system was to help people in rural Appalachia, not to provide access to a new mall, this is unfortunate.

Amazingly, most of the locals jump off Corridor G and take Jefferson Road (now WV-601) to avoid the traffic in Southridge (when I'm in town, I usually do the same).  That being said, I wouldn't recommend it as a through route.  The zigzag at Kanawha Turnpike includes CSX tracks (the old C&O mainline, my home road) that are far too close to all of the South Charleston industrial spurs.  Northbound traffic is usually backed up for several cycles at Kanawha Turnpike and trains are still frequent enough to make it a nightmare.  But being an old roadgeek, I still drag the family that way when I get the chance.  Davis Creek seems like a trip through the industrial 1960s, kind of like much of Pittsburgh surroundings.
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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2020, 05:38:16 PM »

Seems to me that the Teays Valley/Hurricane area is popular because it's equidistant to both Huntington and Charleston.

The exit formerly known as Winfield (now Teays Valley) is only 20 miles from the I-64/I-77/to I-79 conjunction, whereas it is almost 28 miles to the downtown Huntington exit (WV-10 Hal Greer Blvd), plus the trek into town.  The US-60 exit between Barboursville and East Huntington cuts off some of the distance and time for those that work on that end of town.  But traffic can be a bear getting into Charleston (and worse before I-64 opened up).  Time wise, it's probably not much difference these days.

My father worked for 20-some years in Ashland, Kentucky (about a 50-mile trek).  But that took less time than getting to his other office on the south side of Charleston (before I-64 was completed).  Trip times were about equal when the interstate was opened.  When they relocated his office back to Charleston, they built a new tower right at I-64/I-77/to I-79 conjunction (now the West Virginia Lottery Commission building) and the trip time wasn't so bad most days.  All of that was before they opened the new US-35 interchange practically in our backyard.

It's going to be much worse getting to Charleston once the I-64 widening (new Kanawha River bridge) between the Nitro and St. Albans exits gets into full swing.
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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2020, 07:11:40 PM »

It's going to be much worse getting to Charleston once the I-64 widening (new Kanawha River bridge) between the Nitro and St. Albans exits gets into full swing.

Will the new twin I-64 Kanawha River bridge be located north or south of the current one?  And will it be a nearly identical steel truss?  I know there are environmental issues on the Nitro side of the river south of the current bridge, but I think there is a large hill in the way on the St. Albans side north of the current bridge.
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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2020, 11:25:17 PM »

Will the new twin I-64 Kanawha River bridge be located north or south of the current one?  And will it be a nearly identical steel truss?  I know there are environmental issues on the Nitro side of the river south of the current bridge, but I think there is a large hill in the way on the St. Albans side north of the current bridge.

There is also the remaining part of the same hill on the south side, with an industrial center on top.  In the old days shortly after I-64 was completed, this was a golf driving range.  I remember the huge nettings to keep golf balls off the interstate to the left, and from going over to (then) WV-17 (later US-35, now WV-817) in the front.  Soon after, the hill was cut further when the C&O constructed a spur line to the (then new) APCO John Amos Power Plant.  Those are little bumps in West Virginia, which has no issue with chomping down a major league mountainside.
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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2020, 10:56:18 AM »


Amazingly, most of the locals jump off Corridor G and take Jefferson Road (now WV-601) to avoid the traffic in Southridge (when I'm in town, I usually do the same).  That being said, I wouldn't recommend it as a through route.  The zigzag at Kanawha Turnpike includes CSX tracks (the old C&O mainline, my home road) that are far too close to all of the South Charleston industrial spurs.  Northbound traffic is usually backed up for several cycles at Kanawha Turnpike and trains are still frequent enough to make it a nightmare.  But being an old roadgeek, I still drag the family that way when I get the chance.  Davis Creek seems like a trip through the industrial 1960s, kind of like much of Pittsburgh surroundings.

https://transportation.wv.gov/highways/engineering/comment/closed/JeffersonRoadImprovements/Documents/Revised%20Jefferson%20Park%20Plan.pdf

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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2020, 04:27:23 PM »

It took me a while to figure out that plan. The video's a lot clearer, though:

Amazingly, most of the locals jump off Corridor G and take Jefferson Road (now WV-601) to avoid the traffic in Southridge (when I'm in town, I usually do the same).  That being said, I wouldn't recommend it as a through route.  The zigzag at Kanawha Turnpike includes CSX tracks (the old C&O mainline, my home road) that are far too close to all of the South Charleston industrial spurs.  Northbound traffic is usually backed up for several cycles at Kanawha Turnpike and trains are still frequent enough to make it a nightmare.  But being an old roadgeek, I still drag the family that way when I get the chance.  Davis Creek seems like a trip through the industrial 1960s, kind of like much of Pittsburgh surroundings.

https://transportation.wv.gov/highways/engineering/comment/closed/JeffersonRoadImprovements/Documents/Revised%20Jefferson%20Park%20Plan.pdf
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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2020, 09:47:01 PM »

Amazingly, most of the locals jump off Corridor G and take Jefferson Road (now WV-601) to avoid the traffic in Southridge (when I'm in town, I usually do the same).  That being said, I wouldn't recommend it as a through route.  The zigzag at Kanawha Turnpike includes CSX tracks (the old C&O mainline, my home road) that are far too close to all of the South Charleston industrial spurs.  Northbound traffic is usually backed up for several cycles at Kanawha Turnpike and trains are still frequent enough to make it a nightmare.  But being an old roadgeek, I still drag the family that way when I get the chance.  Davis Creek seems like a trip through the industrial 1960s, kind of like much of Pittsburgh surroundings.

https://transportation.wv.gov/highways/engineering/comment/closed/JeffersonRoadImprovements/Documents/Revised%20Jefferson%20Park%20Plan.pdf

It took me a while to figure out that plan. The video's a lot clearer, though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF2wdAAxZ7E

My first impression was that this project was wishful thinking.  However, it looks like some of the properties along Jefferson Road to the south of Kanawha Turnpike have already been demolished.  But after the project was awarded, construction was placed on hold.  I have a hard time believing that the DOH can justify building a four-lane bypass of a six-plus lane arterial.  That being said, it must certainly be one of the most needed projects in the entire state.
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Bitmapped

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Re: Charleston, West Virginia (lack of corridor development)
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2020, 10:45:11 AM »

Amazingly, most of the locals jump off Corridor G and take Jefferson Road (now WV-601) to avoid the traffic in Southridge (when I'm in town, I usually do the same).  That being said, I wouldn't recommend it as a through route.  The zigzag at Kanawha Turnpike includes CSX tracks (the old C&O mainline, my home road) that are far too close to all of the South Charleston industrial spurs.  Northbound traffic is usually backed up for several cycles at Kanawha Turnpike and trains are still frequent enough to make it a nightmare.  But being an old roadgeek, I still drag the family that way when I get the chance.  Davis Creek seems like a trip through the industrial 1960s, kind of like much of Pittsburgh surroundings.

https://transportation.wv.gov/highways/engineering/comment/closed/JeffersonRoadImprovements/Documents/Revised%20Jefferson%20Park%20Plan.pdf

It took me a while to figure out that plan. The video's a lot clearer, though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF2wdAAxZ7E

My first impression was that this project was wishful thinking.  However, it looks like some of the properties along Jefferson Road to the south of Kanawha Turnpike have already been demolished.  But after the project was awarded, construction was placed on hold.  I have a hard time believing that the DOH can justify building a four-lane bypass of a six-plus lane arterial.  That being said, it must certainly be one of the most needed projects in the entire state.

DOH is moving forward with the project. The traffic counts and issues with the offset intersection and railroad more than justify it.
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