By Greg Jordan
May 24, 2023 - Work on constructing a section of the King Coal Highway is expected to be finished by the late summer or early fall of this year, the public learned Tuesday during an open house at the West Virginia Division of Highways District 10 headquarters.
The informational open house gave local leaders and the public an opportunity to learn about upcoming highway projects and core maintenance in District 10, which includes the counties of Mercer, McDowell, Raleigh and Wyoming. Local projects discussed during the open house included a Mercer County section of the King Coal Highway. Motorists will be using it soon.
WVDOH equipment was on display Tuesday during the open house at the District 10 headquarters near Princeton.
Photo: Greg Jordan, Bluefield Daily Telegraph
"It is set to open late this summer, early this fall," District 10 Engineer Ryland Musick said. "They're actually finishing up one of the bridges now with tie rebar on the deck, pouring the parapets and then onto the approach slabs. There will be some last-minute paving to finish up there, but yes, we're so glad that Airport Road and John Nash Boulevard is finally going to be open late summer, early fall."
The section, located between the City of Bluefield and Interstate 77, starts and ends at Airport Road, W.Va 123, Musick said. It will cross the Christine Elmore West Bridge near the intersection of Route 460 and Princeton Avenue and hook into John Nash Boulevard, which links with Interstate 77.
The local King Coal Highway will not be completely finished when the new section opens in late summer or early fall.
"The plans are to keep on designing and building more sections. The designs are in progress," Musick said. "The Coalfields Expressway project was a little further along, so we're trying to get those wrapped up, too, for now. But again, King Coal is not out of the woods. We are on it."
Musick said planning new highways construction and proceeding with it takes years to do.
"A good project like that today, it will take five to six years to get it off the road environmentally and design-wise, and another two or three to build one," he said. "Then you put complications on top of that, there's really going to be problems, but we're going to be glad to get that done."
The local construction was scheduled for completion last year, but there were complications with the new bridge that's part of the highway.
"It was supposed to be done before now, but our contractor and subcontractor had some issues with the bridge. It was corrected correctly and moving forward," Musick said. Part of the work had to be redone.
"There was a piece on the bridge that they had cast, and during the construction process some rebar or some caissons twisted," he said. "They had to take all that back out and start over. That's what we did. Good things take time and money, and some things take more money. But it's done right and we're looking forward to it opening."