CHARLESTON, WV – Today marks the fifth anniversary of the historic passage of Gov. Justice’s Roads To Prosperity bond program.
“This is a day that all West Virginians should celebrate every year. It was on this day five years ago that West Virginians made their voices heard, loud and clear, that they were done with being 50th and they were all-in on our incredible Roads To Prosperity plan to improve our infrastructure across our state.”Governor Jim Justice (R-WV)
On October 7, 2017, West Virginians were asked to cast their vote on whether to approve the issuance of $1.6 billion of state bonds to build and upgrade the state’s roads and bridges. This historic road bond passed with an overwhelming majority of voters – 73 percent – supporting the Governor’s Roads To Prosperity initiative.
“Many people thought that this would lead to more taxes, but I told you that wouldn’t happen at all. And it’s not led to one dime’s worth. All it’s led to is jobs and jobs and jobs in West Virginia. Roads are being fixed all over the place, there’s orange cones everywhere. It’s working. But the biggest thing that’s working more than anything is that you’re able to get in your car and drive to the convenience store without tearing your car all to pieces. The great people of our Department of Highways have done unbelievable work and they’re continuing to do it. We’re not going to stop until we get every single road improved across our great state.”Governor Jim Justice (R-WV)
Over the past five years, the West Virginia Department of Transportation has completed more than 1,000 of the 1,263 projects funded through Roads to Prosperity. The program has also freed up millions of additional dollars that the WVDOT has been able to put back into smaller roads across West Virginia.
When Gov. Justice directed WVDOT leaders to make road maintenance its top priority in 2019, the WVDOT has completed more than $1.2 billion in highway maintenance projects, including patching on nearly 89,000 miles of roadway, more than 34,000 miles of ditching, and over 190,000 miles of mowing along the state’s highways.
In that time, the WVDOT has paved more than 6,015 miles of roads.
“Without the Governor’s bold vision, we would still be struggling to complete these projects. Projects like the I-70 bridges in Wheeling, Coalfields Expressway, and Corridor H, I don’t know how long those would have taken to get done, we would have no end in sight. From the big, regionally significant projects to our secondary roads, it’s all important and it’s what our citizens deserve.”Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation Jimmy Wriston, P.E.
A celebration of the fifth anniversary of Roads to Prosperity is being planned at the State Culture Center in Charleston in the coming weeks.
MAJOR ROADS TO PROSPERITY PROJECTS INCLUDE:
The Coalfields Expressway (WV 121) is a four-lane limited access highway designed to connect The West Virginia Turnpike at Beckley with US 23 in Slate, Virginia, opening West Virginia’s southern coalfields to never-before-seen economic development opportunities. The four-lane will also replace narrow, twisting country roads with safer, faster and more direct routes.
Construction began in 1999 but stalled due to a lack of funding.
In 2017, Gov. Jim Justice committed to extending the Coalfields Expressway as part of his Roads to Prosperity program. In 2020 an 8.9-mile section of the Expressway opened to traffic between Slab Fork in Raleigh County and Mullens in Wyoming County.
In May 2022, a $147.6 million project was awarded to Bizzack Construction to build a 5.12-mile section of highway from Welch to WV 16 to connect the town with the Coalfields Expressway.
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.
About 18 miles of the Coalfields Expressway are currently open to traffic.
Beckley Widening Project
The section of the West Virginia Turnpike around Beckley has historically been one of the most congested portions of the entire Turnpike, with heavy traffic and the potential for accidents. That changed in the fall of 2021 with the completion of a $140 million widening project between mile marker 40 (Interstate 64 Interchange) and mile marker 48 (North Beckley exit).
The Turnpike was widened to six lanes for the eight-mile stretch of highway, which includes the Mabscott, Tamarack and Beckley exits. The six-lane upgrade eased congestion in the heavily traveled section of the Turnpike and improved safety on the stretch of highway.
Interstate 70 Bridges
In 2019, work began on a massive project to replace or rehabilitate 26 different bridges in and around Interstate 70 in the Wheeling area, increasing safety for travelers and improving traffic flow once the project is complete.
One of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by the West Virginia Department of Transportation, the approximately $238 million project replaces or rehabilitates infrastructure dating back to the 1950s, which would have been too expensive to undertake prior to Roads to Prosperity.
Designed to open some of West Virginia’s most remote areas in Grant, Tucker, and Hardy counties to economic development, connect the state’s highlands with eastern ports, speed travel times through the mountains and provide a smooth, safe highway for travelers and local residents, Appalachian Corridor H begins in Weston and travels across central West Virginia to link up with Interstate 81 in Strasburg, Virginia. The completion of four-lane Corridor H has been in the works for decades, but stalled out years ago. However, when Gov. Justice took office and instituted his Roads To Prosperity program, additional funding began to be secured and work on the corridor picked back up.
Well over 100 miles of Corridor H are currently open to traffic, with about another 30 miles to go.
Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge
Completion of the Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge project on Interstate 64 between the Nitro and St. Albans exits will eliminate a major bottleneck and greatly improve driver safety on one of West Virginia’s most heavily travelled interstates. The project involves building a brand-new bridge just north of the existing Donald Legg Bridge to carry westbound traffic. The old bridge will then be torn down and a new bridge erected on the existing bridge piers to carry eastbound traffic. Each bridge will be four lanes wide to allow motorists to travel between the Nitro and St. Albans exits without having to merge into traffic.
The work is part of an approximately $225 million project to upgrade I-64 to six lanes from Nitro to the US 35 exit. The project also called for construction of five new bridges in addition to the new Donald M. Legg Memorial Bridge.