Construction begins on the Coalfields Expressway in McDowell County

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Aug. 1—WELCH — Construction on the Coalfields Expressway in McDowell County is now underway.

Gov. Jim Justice joined West Virginia Department of Transportation officials Tuesday for a ground-breaking ceremony on the project, which will link the new four-lane corridor with the city of Welch.

"The Coalfields Expressway has been in the making for 30-plus years now," Justice said. "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. 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.

Justice announced the bid award for the project in May of this year.

Roadwork involves building a 5.12-mile section of highway from Welch to W.Va. 16, connecting the southern West Virginia city of Welch with the Coalfields Expressway, the governor's office said.

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," WVDOT Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E., said. "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.

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, the governor's office said.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens