King Coal Highway bridge building begins
Bridge building begins
By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD — Dirt is finally moving on the new $16.3 million King Coal Highway bridge project in Bluefield.
The contractor is now performing excavation work at the site on Route 19 near Stoney Ridge, Phillip White, a construction engineer with the Division of Highways District 10 office in Bluefield, said.
White said a utility pole that was blocking the bridge construction has been relocated.
“Everything is gone,” White said. “All of the utilities have been relocated. The contractor is underway. He’s excavating for pier one. Pier one is on the northside. It is adjacent to Mercer County Route 25. He has started. That’s the first item of work for him.”
Ahern and Associates of South Charleston was awarded the $16.3 million contract in June and received a notice to proceed on July 10. Although state officials were originally targeting mid-August for the actual start of construction, the discovery of a utility pole along the construction path delayed the actual construction start.
Mike Mitchem, executive director of the King Coal Highway Authority, said the news is welcomed.
“That’s great news,” Mitchem said. “This is another positive development in our road progress. We are looking forward to the day we can be all the way out toward Route 123. We are really thankful for the funding that is coming through Sen. Byrd, Congressman Rahall and Sen. Rockefeller for our project.”
White said the construction is expected to continue through the winter.
“Generally, they can work on those (the piers) through the fall and into the winter unless it is drastically cold,” White said. “They have ways to heat the concrete. So work through the winter is always possible.”
When completed, the twin bridges will extend about 160 feet above Route 19 taking the King Coal Highway from the K.A. Ammar Interchange in Bluefield toward Stoney Ridge. The bridge construction won’t be completed until 2009.
White said traffic delays aren’t immediately expected along Route 19. However, he said the contractor is working with Norfolk Southern in preparation of a pier excavation work near the railroad.
When completed, the King Coal Highway will travel 95 miles through Mingo, Wayne, Wyoming, McDowell and Mercer counties with the Tolsia segment from Williamson to Huntington extending another 55 miles. It will interchange with the Coalfields Expressway in Welch near the Indian Ridge Industrial Park and the site of the new federal prison. The King Coal and Tolsia Highways represent the West Virginia corridors of Interstate 73/74.