Coalfield Expressway could have $12.8B impact, study says
Highway would create construction, service biz jobs
The cumulative economic impact of the Coalfields Expressway (CFX) during a 50-year span is estimated to be $12.8 billion in 2021 dollars, according to a study by Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics presented Tuesday.
The CFX is a proposed limited-access highway that would run through Southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia. It is designated as U.S. Route 121 and a congressional high priority corridor.
West Virginia has started on the CFX. In Virginia, only a shared section with U.S. 460 in Buchanan County is funded.
The Virginia Coalfields Expressway Authority and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority requested that Chmura conduct the study, building on a study it finished in 2013. The Virginia CFX Authority Board heard the results Tuesday in Lebanon.
The study found that while the completed roadway would cost $3.1 billion, each dollar invested could yield $3.10 in economic impact over the highway’s lifespan.
The study conclusion anticipates that construction of the CFX would inject an annual average of $225.4 million into the local economy from 2013 through 2038 and that it would generate 1,543 jobs each year in that period. The construction’s one-time impact is expected to reach $5.9 billion in the corridor from 2013 to 2038, of which $4.1 billion would be in direct construction spending. The cumulative ripple effect of the capital investment could generate $1.8 billion in spending and 13,859 cumulative jobs in the corridor.
According to the study, “CFX can help improve travel efficiency and provide cost savings. The total user benefits are estimated to reach $89.2 million in 2039.”
Chmura estimated that the CRX could support 79 service businesses, which would likely be clustered around access points on the roadway, in 2039. The businesses could generate $151.9 million and create 1,236 jobs.
State and local governments would reap $7.8 million in 2039 from sales tax, corporate income tax and individual income tax, the study estimates.
The study notes that the CFX would benefit mining, manufacturing and agricultural businesses by providing easier access to markets. The presence of an interstate highway could also increase the appeal of the region to expanding and relocating firms, as well as increasing population and tourism growth and improving the region’s quality of life.