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Author Topic: Coalfields Expressway  (Read 11514 times)

SP Cook

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #75 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.

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hbelkins

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #76 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.
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Bitmapped

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #77 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.
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seicer

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #78 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).

SP Cook

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #79 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.   
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sparker

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #80 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. 
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Bitmapped

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #81 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.
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seicer

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #82 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?

SP Cook

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #83 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
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hbelkins

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Re: Coalfields Expressway
« Reply #84 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?
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