King Coal Highway: Tomblin must act on Rahall’s request

An editorial from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s apparent reluctance to place the King Coal Highway project into the state’s six-year highway improvement plan is both baffling and disappointing. Both U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and members of the King Coal Highway Authority board asked Tomblin more than two months ago to place the King Coal Highway into West Virginia’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan.

But a spokesman for Tomblin told the Daily Telegraph earlier this week that “no decisions” have been made on the request. Why? In case the governor hasn’t noticed, we have a bridge to nowhere near Bluefield. Construction on the King Coal Highway, which is the local route of the future Interstate 73/74 corridor, has been stalled near Bluefield since 2007.

The Coalfields Expressway is already included in West Virginia’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, but the King Coal Highway is not. Being in the state’s six-year plan would make the project eligible for additional state and federal funding, including future TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants.

Getting this project back under construction is absolutely critical to future growth in Mercer County. And placing the King Coal Highway into the state’s six-year plan should be a no-brainer. However Tomblin’s office is clearly stalling on the matter…

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