Transport Secretary outlines focus on Corridor H, King Coal and Coalfields highways
Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston still ranks the Appalachian H Corridor, the King Coal Highway and the Coalfields Expressway as top priorities for West Virginia’s highway construction program in an era of historic federal funding.
“These are at the top of the list. These are things that we are going to focus on,” Wriston told lawmakers on Sunday.
He said the progress will be “meaningful” for the King Coal Highway, a 95-mile stretch through McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Wyoming and Wayne counties as well as the Coalfields Expressway, a multi-lane highway connecting the West Virginia Turnpike to Beckley with US 23 to Slate, Va.
And he sees it as a conclusion to work on Corridor H.
“I think it’s safe to say that the end of construction on Corridor H, the end is underway,” Wriston said of the long-running work to build a four-lane highway in central Virginia. -Western to Virginia line.
Wriston provided an update to lawmakers on Sunday during an interim meeting of the Transportation Department‘s Accountability Oversight Commission.
Sen. Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, asked Wriston several questions aimed at getting more details about the progress being made on the highways in southern West Virginia.
On the Coalfields Highway, Swope specifically asked when a works contract on Mullens to Welch would come into effect.
“Design work is well advanced now for the next section between Mullens and the Twin Falls Connector, which we have added to the scope of this project,” Wriston said. “So this project is the one to look for, because it’s the one that will get the drums beating. Once that happens, we will have a project under construction, a project being designed until we get to the Virginia line.
Swipe went on to ask, “What is the timeline for completion of the two projects? When could we look forward to these segments? »
“That would put us 2028 in Welch,” Wriston said. “That would be an aggressive estimate.”
Swope asked how many contracts would be needed to extend the Coalfields Freeway to the Virginia line. “Do you have an estimate of the total cost of this and how long it might take?”
“From Welch to the Virginia line?” I think it’s about $1.3-1.5 billion,” Wriston replied.
“How many dollars would it take to get to the Virginia border?” Swipe asked.
“Where are we from today?” Wriston asked for clarification. “It’s probably around $2 billion.”
Swope: “How many years of construction time would that be?”
Wriston: “Typically it would be 25, but I think we can do a lot better than that. I think we’re looking at a little over a decade.
Swope then turned the questions to the King Coal Highway. “Can you give us a segment of what’s next and what the time frame looks like?”
Wriston described a similar approach on King Coal. “Probably once that drum starts beating, I’d say the clock is ticking and we’ll have a build project, a design project all the way through.”
“How big is this project compared to the $2 billion you just mentioned? Swipe asked.
“It’s almost the same thing,” Wriston said.
Swope commented, “I would have thought it would be a lot bigger with a lot more mileage.”
The mileage aspect is true, Wriston said, “but maybe we’re looking at different approaches where we can use Route 52 to some extent and maybe just build two lanes.”
- Wriston, in his remarks to lawmakers, noted that a federal bridge rehabilitation program is $548 million over five years. “It’s a very big program. It’s something we’re really going to have an impact with in West Virginia.
- A national electric vehicle package program is about $45.6 million, Wriston said. “It’s new for us. It’s going to be full of challenges.