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Gov. Justice cuts ribbon to open ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ and major section of King Coal Highway near Bluefield

BLUEFIELD, WV — Gov. Jim Justice today held an event to cut the ribbon and celebrate the grand opening of an approximately three-mile stretch of the King Coal Highway spanning from Airport Road to John Nash Boulevard near Bluefield.

The approximately $68 million project, the first section of the King Coal Highway to be funded through Gov. Justice’s $2.8 billion Roads to Prosperity program, connects Airport Road to the previously constructed Christine Elmore West Bridge, and the bridge to the intersection of John Nash Boulevard and US 460. Kanawha Stone Company Inc. was awarded the contract in October 2018, with construction starting that winter.

Over the years, the bridge has been referred to as the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

“This is no longer the bridge to nowhere; it is finally a bridge to economic prosperity,” Gov. Justice said. “Every last one of us pulled the rope together to get this project across the finish line. This one has been in the works for so many years, and it took a team with the right vision to get it done. We all worked together to turn this into a reality, and it’s another sign of progress in West Virginia. I have no doubt this is just the beginning.”
The King Coal Highway is a four-lane highway approximately 95 miles long running through McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Wyoming, and Wayne counties, along or near currently existing US 52 from US 119 near Williamson to Interstate 77 in Bluefield. The project is intended to open West Virginia’s southern coalfields to economic development.
 
Development of the King Coal Highway has been underway since the 1990s, but bogged down for lack of funding before Gov. Justice revitalized the project in 2018. A two-mile section of the King Coal Highway connecting Airport Road to Interstate 77, and a four-mile section connecting US 119 to Belo north of Williamson are currently open to traffic. About 10 miles between Red Jacket and Mountain View is also open.

“This project doesn’t happen without Governor Justice and his Roads to Prosperity program,” Secretary of Transportation Jimmy Wriston, P.E., said. “This bridge sat here for years without, but here we are, cutting a ribbon to celebrate its opening. The Roads to Prosperity program has truly saved the state, and it has turned around the Department of Transportation. I thank Governor Justice for his leadership. Because of him, West Virginia is set to prosper for years to come.”
Gov. Justice has made completion of the King Coal Highway, the Coalfields Expressway, and Appalachian Corridor H the top three priorities of his administration.
 
Development of the King Coal Highway continues. In July 2023, Triton Construction Inc. was awarded a contract for nearly $92 million to extend the existing four-lane highway for about 1.5 miles from Mountain View and create a connector to the town of Gilbert along Gilbert Creek.
 
That project is also funded through Roads to Prosperity.
 
A roughly $93 million project extending the King Coal Highway from Littlesburg to the Mercer County Airport and an approximately $107 million project from Montcalm to Littlesburg are currently in the planning stage.