Virginia moves ahead with Coalfields Expressway and Route 58 road projects
- December 7, 2011
The Virginia Department of Transportation has reached agreements with private-sector partners to move ahead on the Coalfields Expressway and Route 58 Corridor improvement projects in Southwest Virginia. In announcing the agreements, Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement that “the Coalfields Expressway will provide a modern, safe and efficient highway through the coalfields region of southwestern Virginia and will open the region to new economic development opportunities.” Route 58 would have the same effect, he added, in Southwest and Southern Virginia. “It will make the communities along Route 58 more accessible, speed travel times, and provide a direct freight link with Virginia’s port.”
VDOT and the new Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships (OTP3) are moving on the projects under the Public Private Transportation Act (PPTA). It allows the state to partner with the private sector to deliver projects. Funding will come from the governor’s transportation package, which was included in the state’s Six-Year Improvement Program.
VDOT has negotiated a $3.8 million amendment to its existing PPTA contract with Alpha Natural Resources to begin preliminary engineering of the Pound Connector and Doe Branch sections of the Coalfields Expressway. Alpha, based out of Bristol, is the world’s fifth-largest coal producer.
The Coalfields Expressway — U.S. Route 121 — is a proposed four-lane highway stretching about 49 miles from Pound in Wise County through Dickinson and Buchanan counties to the West Virginia state line. The Doe Branch section ties the Route 460 Connector Phase II and Hawks Nest in Buchanan County and travels west to Route 80 in the Haysi area of Dickinson County, about 4.8 miles. The Pound Connector is about 6.8 miles, starting at Route 23 in the Pound area of Wise County and extending into Dickinson County where it will connect to Route 83 via a connector road.
This summer VDOT completed the first section of rough grade road bed for the Coalfields Expressway. Alpha Natural Resources constructed the road bed at a cost of $10 million, a savings to VDOT of more than $90 million by coordinating the road bed development on mountainous terrain as part of an active surface mining operation.
Route 58 corridor improvements
VDOT negotiated a $119.75 million amendment under its existing PPTA contract with Branch Highways Inc. to build the next phase of Route 58 improvements along the 36-mile corridor between Hillsville and Stuart. Under the PPTA agreement, construction is expected to start in spring 2012 to widen 8.2 miles of Route 58 between Meadows of Dan and Laurel Fork.
The Route 58 Corridor from Hillsville to Stuart is the last remaining section to complete the widening of Route 58 from Virginia Beach to I-77.