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DEP approval, utility pole delay King Coal bridge project

By Charles Owens and Greg Jordan, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, August 14, 2007

Highway officials must remove a utility pole and have an erosion control plan approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection before construction can begin on a new $16.3 million segment of the King Coal Highway in Bluefield. Although the official start date was set for mid-August, the utility line must be relocated first.

The contract was awarded in June and a notice to proceed with the construction was given on July 10, however, no work has begun. Physical work should begin, however, in two to three weeks.

The contract is for two nearly-identical spans that will span 160 feet above U.S. route 19 in Bluefield towards Stoney Ridge. The bridge will take approximately two years to complete. The first span will be 1,154 feet long, while the second will be 1,058-feet long. Each bridge will feature two 12-foot lanes, a 12-foot right shoulder, and a 6-foot left shoulder.

The bridge work begins just north of the existing K.A. Ammar interchange (U.S. Route 52 and 460) in Bluefield, where construction ended several years ago.

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City gets funds to replace traffic lights

By Bryan Chambers, The Herald-Dispatch [Huntington], August 28, 2007

The city of Huntington was awarded $4.1 million from the West Virginia Division of Highways on Monday. The funding will be used to design and replace its traffic signalization infrastructure in the downtown area and along several main thoroughfares. The purpose of the project is to modernize the traffic signals and their timing systems so that traffic flow is optimized and air quality is improved. Most of the signals were installed in the 1970s, and communication systems between each signal are failing.

The engineering phase will take place during the 2008-2009 fiscal year (July), and construction will begin in the 2009-2010 fiscal year. The city will save $150,000 annually in energy costs when the lights are modernized with energy-efficient LEDs.

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I-64 project likely to cause delays

By Bryan Chambers, The Herald-Dispatch [Htgn], September 3, 2007

The twin Interstate 64 bridges over Fourpole Creek and West Virginia Route 10 will be replaced beginning next year. The $20-$25 million project will reduce traffic to just one lane in each direction at times, and won't be completed for nearly two years. The new spans will be the fourth set of interstate bridges in Cabell county to be replaced with wider, three-lane structures. Last year, WVDOH replaced the Darnell Road and Crossroads overpasses near Huntington, and are now working on the Milton interchange overpasses.

The bridge project is part of the Interstate 64 Huntington to Charleston widening project that will cost in excess of $325 million and take more than 20 years to complete.

The existing dual two-lane spans were built in 1963 and have reached the end of their service life. They will be replaced in three phases. Pier foundations and columns will be formed for the new bridges in the first phase, which will begin in December or January. It will not affect traffic on Interstate 64, and it may have some lane reductions on West Virginia Route 10.

The second phase will begin in April 2008, where all traffic on Interstate 64 will be shifted to the existing eastbound bridge so that crews can demolish the westbound bridge and construct a new one. Traffic will be just one lane in each direction. Configuring the project in this manner will save crews one year in work and $3.5 million.

The third phase will have traffic on Interstate 64 shifted to the new westbound bridge so that the eastbound bridge can be demolished and rebuilt. It will be wide enough to carry four lanes of traffic.

Bids for the project will be advertised in October and be finished in fall 2009.

A roadside assistance service also will be located near the construction site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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(Personal note: Recommendations years ago by a panel strongly suggested tolling the highway to expedite the construction process.)

U.S. 35 could be toll road: DOH must find millions to finish highway

By Alison Knezevich, Charleston Gazette, September 21, 2007

The West Virginia Department of Highways still needs to find millions of dollars to fund a 13-mile section of the new U.S. 35 corridor in Mason County, West Virginia Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox said Friday. The proposed stretch from the Buffalo Bridge to County Route 40 could cost $200 million to construct, and the administrators are looking at various ways to get the money, including tolling the road. That could include using a private-public partnership, where the government pays a private-sector operator of a road based, in part, on how many vehicles will use the road.

So far, workers have built 40% of the new U.S. Route 35, which will stretch from Henderson in Mason County (Pt. Pleasant) to Interstate 64 in Putnam County.

Three sections should be open next year, including a 1.54 mile section between Hurricane Creek Road and County Route 15, a 1.65 mile section from County Route 15 to the Buffalo Bridge, and a 1.67 mile section from Crooked Creek to West Virginia Route 34. In spring 2009, a 6.28 mile section between West Virginia Route 34 and Hurricane Creek Road should open.

On Thursday, highway engineers and administrators met with American Indian representatives to discuss the discovery of an Indian cave in Mason County. The cave contains artifacts that could be more than 1,000 years old. Members of the Eastern Cherokee and Shawnee tribes traveled to West Virginia to tour the site. They will consult with their tribal leaders before reporting back to transportation officials about how to proceed.

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Bridge building begins

By Charles Owens, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, September, 20, 2007

Construction has finally begun on a new $16.3 million King Coal Highway bridge in Bluefield. The contractor is now performing excavation work at the site on U.S. Route 19 near Stoney Ridge. A utility pole was all that was blocking the bridge construction; it has since been relocated.

The contract was awarded in June and the contractor received a notice to proceed on July 10. Although the West Virginia Department of Highways were originally targeting mid-Aguust for the start date, a lone utility pole delayed work until late-September.

Construction should continue throughout the winter. When the bridges are complete, they will extend ab out 160 feet above U.S. Route 19, which will take the King Coal Highway from U.S. Route 460 in Bluefield towards Stoney Ridge. The spans won't be complete until 2009.

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