West Virginia to build $147.6 million connector road between Welch and Coalfield: CEG
(Photo courtesy of Governor Jim Justice’s office)
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice held an event May 13 near the construction site of the state’s newest major freeway — the one that will connect the town of Welch to the Coalfields Freeway.
The project is the latest effort in the governor’s Road to Prosperity program, specifically designed to provide funding for the construction of key roads and highways across the state.
“Today’s announcement means we are one step closer to opening this area of West Virginia to the world once and for all,” Justice said. “We’ve waited and waited in southern West Virginia for far too long. From what I understand, this section here is a linchpin…and the sections beyond will move even faster.”
He joined officials from the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) in announcing that it has approved the award of the $147.6 million connector to Bizzack Construction of Lexington, Ky.
The project will involve the construction of a 5.12 mile long section of freeway between Welch and the W. Va Freeway. 16, connecting the small town to the Coalfields Highway.
The justice bureau said in a press release that the road works will include the construction of two freeway ramps and two bridges and are expected to require more than 16 million meters. of excavation. Additionally, over 10,000 feet of large diameter drain pipe will also be laid for the road.
An official event commemorating the start of construction of the connecting highway project will be held soon, according to the governor’s office.
If all goes according to plan, the new roadway should be completed in the summer of 2026.
Connector just one of many new road projects
“A lot of people start things; the governor is a guy who finishes things,” said Jimmy Wriston, WVDOH commissioner and secretary of state for transportation. “It’s another step on the way to the finish. [It] took a long time to come, [and] it’s the beginning of the end to get there.”
“I am absolutely committed to completing this project because it opens up the whole world south of West Virginia,” added Justice. “It’s taken us decades to find ourselves in this mess. It’s a dog’s mess we’re crawling out of but we’re getting there.”
The state is also considering building a 5-mi. stretch of the Coalfields Highway from the town of Mullens to Twin Falls State Park, and 3 mi. link from Twin Falls to Pineville.
Once all planned sections of the highway are completed, it will eventually connect the West Virginia Turnpike in Beckley to Route 83 in Virginia in the community of Slate, Virginia, opening up the southern coalfields to unprecedented economic development opportunities, according to Cabinet de justice.
“We are doing everything we can to execute the governor’s vision,” Wriston said. “I drove around McDowell County today. The roads [there] are as good as anywhere in the state now, and they are getting better every day.”
In 2017, Justice pledged to expand the Coalfields Freeway as part of its Roads to Prosperity program if the citizens of West Virginia passed its road bond referendum. Less than a year after the bond was approved with 73% of the vote, a contract for the expansion project was awarded to Ohio-based Kokosing Construction Co.
This section of road opened in October 2020, marking the first-ever four-lane freeway in Wyoming County.