WELCH, WV – Gov. Jim Justice hosted an event Friday near the site where the state’s newest major highway through his Roads To Prosperity program will connect the Town of Welch with the Coalfields Expressway.
“This announcement today means we are one step closer to bringing this area of West Virginia to the world once and for all,” said Gov. Justice. “We have waited and waited in southern West Virginia for way too long. From what I understand, this section right here is a linchpin section and then the sections beyond that will move even faster.”
The Governor joined officials with the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) to announce that he has approved the bid award for this $147.6 million project to Bizzack Construction of Lexington, Kentucky.
Roadwork will involve building a 5.12-mile section of highway from Welch to WV 16, connecting the southern West Virginia town with the Coalfields Expressway.
The project includes the construction of two ramps, two bridges, and will require more than 16 million yards of excavation.
More than 10,000 feet of large diameter drainage pipe will also be put in place for the project.
“A lot of people start things, the Governor is a guy that finishes things. This is another step along the way to the finish,” said Jimmy Wriston, P.E., WVDOH Commissioner and State Transportation Secretary. “This has been a long time coming. This is the beginning of the end of getting this done.”
A formal event commemorating the beginning of construction on the project will be held soon.
The project is expected to be complete in the summer of 2026.
“I am absolutely committed beyond belief to get this project finished because it opens up the whole world to southern West Virginia,” said Gov. Justice. “It took decades for us to get in this mess. This is a dogs’ mess that we’re crawling out of but we’re getting there.”
Future plans are also in the works to build a five-mile stretch of the Coalfields Expressway from Mullens to Twin Falls State Park, and a three-mile link from Twin Falls toward Pineville.
Once all planned sections of the Expressway are completed, it will eventually connect the West Virginia Turnpike at Beckley with US 23 at Slate, Virginia, opening the southern coalfields to never-before-seen economic development opportunities.
“We’re doing everything we can to execute the Governor’s vision,” said Secretary Wriston. “I drove around McDowell County today. The roads in McDowell County are as good as anywhere in the state now and they’re getting better every day.”
In 2017, Gov. Justice committed to extending the Coalfields Expressway as part of his Roads To Prosperity program if the citizens of West Virginia passed his road bond referendum. Within one year of the bond passing with 73% of the vote, a contract for the extension project was awarded to Kokosing Construction Company. That section was opened in October 2020, marking the first ever four-lane highway in Wyoming County.