W.Va. officials explore two-lane option for King Coal

Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo by Eric DiNovo The Christine West Bridge remains unused in Bluefield Monday. Officials will soon visit Washington, D.C., with a two-lane corridor option to connect the bridge at Stoney Ridge to the area of Route 123 near the Mercer County Airport.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo by Eric DiNovo  The Christine West Bridge remains unused in Bluefield Monday. Officials will soon visit Washington, D.C., with a two-lane corridor option to connect the bridge at Stoney Ridge to the area of Route 123 near the Mercer County Airport.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo by Eric DiNovo
The Christine West Bridge remains unused in Bluefield Monday. Officials will soon visit Washington, D.C., with a two-lane corridor option to connect the bridge at Stoney Ridge to the area of Route 123 near the Mercer County Airport.

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — A usable section of the King Coal Highway in Mercer County could be constructed at half of the project’s original estimated cost, officials said Monday.

However, that would involve building — at least initially — only a two-lane corridor from the existing Christine West Bridge at Stoney Ridge to the area of Route 123 near the Mercer County Airport. The remaining two lanes under the proposed option would then be completed when additional funds become available, according to King Coal Highway Authority Executive Director Mike Mitchem.

The two-lane option is one of several funding requests supporters of the King Coal Highway will be making Wednesday in Washington. Mitchem said a usable two-lane segment of the highway could be completed at a cost of $33 million. However, the group would still prefer to construct all four lanes at once, which would cost an estimated $66 million.

Mitchem said state engineers have indicated that two lanes of the road could be constructed first, and used by local traffic. The remaining two lanes would then be constructed at a later time.

Mitchem said local authority members, including Tom Hall, Christine West, Julie Ball and Marc Meachum, are scheduled to meet Wednesday in Washington, D.C., with U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.; U.S. Rep. Shelly Moore-Capito, R-W.Va.; and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to make the funding requests.

“We will be asking for funding, and also asking for updates on the new (federal) transportation bill due in September,” Mitchem said. “We will be asking for funding for the section there in Mercer, and the sections in Mingo and the interchange at Indian Ridge in Welch…”

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