WELCH, WV (WVDN) – Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia Department of Transportation officials on August 1, 2022, for a ceremony to celebrate the start of work on a major road project to connect the Town of Welch with the Coalfields Expressway.
“The Coalfields Expressway has been in the making for 30-plus years now. It should have been done a long time ago; before I even walked in the door as Governor. But now, we’re making it happen. We’re getting this done for the people of southern West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said. “I believe in southern West Virginia with all my heart. It’s home to me. And I believe in how much the Coalfields Expressway means to this area. Today is another big step toward us running across the finish line.”
The $147.6 million project – which is part of the Governor’s Roads To Prosperity program – will be completed by Bizzack Construction of Lexington, KY.
Gov. Justice announced the bid award for the project in May this year.
Roadwork involves building a 5.12-mile section of highway from Welch to WV 16, connecting the southern West Virginia town with the Coalfields Expressway.
The project includes the construction of two ramps, two bridges, and will require more than 16 million yards of excavation.
More than 10,000 feet of large diameter drainage pipe will also be put in place for the project.
“Gov. Justice is the man with the vision, through his Roads To Prosperity program that is allowing projects like this all over the state to be completed,” said WVDOT Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E. “This groundbreaking marks a wonderful, wonderful day for McDowell County. This is the lynchpin project. This is the one. This is when the drum starts beating toward the end of the project to when we get the Coalfields Expressway done once and for all.”
The project is expected to be complete in the summer of 2026.
“I want to see this whole highway completed and all the way to Virginia. We’ve done some sections already. There may be other sections that may still need to be finished after I leave. But by the time I leave office, I’m going to leave enough stones for it to be fully finished,” Gov. Justice added.
Future plans are also in the works to build a five-mile stretch of the Coalfields Expressway from Mullens to Twin Falls State Park, and a three-mile link from Twin Falls toward Pineville.
Once all planned sections of the Expressway are completed, it will eventually connect the West Virginia Turnpike at Beckley with US 23 at Slate, Virginia, opening the southern coalfields to never-before-seen economic development opportunities.
In 2017, Gov. Justice committed to extending the Coalfields Expressway as part of his Roads To Prosperity program if the citizens of West Virginia passed his road bond referendum. Within one year of the bond passing with 73% of the vote, a contract for the extension project was awarded to Kokosing Construction Company. That section was opened in October 2020, marking the first ever four-lane highway in Wyoming County.