CHARLESTON, W. Va.– The proposed four-lane Coalfields Expressway has moved one step closer to becoming a reality.
Beginning this fall, the West Virginia Division of Highways will let a $20 million contract for a two mile, grade and drain section of the highway.
West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox and Coalfields Expressway Authority Executive Director Richard Browning made the announcement in a DOH release.
This project will extend the four-lane highway from West Helen in Raleigh County to County Route 12/1 in Wyoming County. This will be one of four projects that will link the new highway from West Helen to Mullens.
“As Southern West Virginia continues to diversify its economy, the Coalfields Expressway continues to be critical to the future prosperity of the entire region,” stated Browning in the release.
Sixty percent, or $12 million, of the $20 million funding will come from Federal-Aid; with another 25 percent, or $5 million from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program; while the remaining 15 percent, or $3 million, is state money.
According to the DOH, TIGER or TIGER Discretionary Grant program, allows the U.S. Department of Transportation to invest in projects that have a significant impact on the Nation, a region or a metropolitan area.
“The existing two-lane roadway has many deficiencies for today’s transportation needs,” Mattox said in the release. “The project to be let this fall will be another large step toward our goal of delivering a safer, modern highway to southern West Virginia.”
The Coalfield Expressway, designated as U.S. 121, is a rural, four-lane divided, partially controlled access highway that is 62 miles in length.
Once completed, it will connect the city of Beckley with the Virginia/West Virginia state line where it intersects the Virginia alignment for the Coalfields Expressway.
Coalfield Expressway discussions first began in the early 1960s with construction on the project not starting until 2000.
Currently, 6.9 miles of the Coalfields Expressway is open to traffic in Raleigh County.
The new road will be the first four-lane for both Wyoming and McDowell counties.