U.S. Route 121
|Length||108.35 mi (174.37 km)|
|Existed||1998 – present|
|South end||US 23 in Pound, VA|
|North end||I‑64 / I‑77 near Beckley, WV|
|States||Virginia, West Virginia|
U.S. Route 121 is a proposed highway designated as the Coalfields Expressway, a four-lane highway stretching from Beckley, West Virginia to Pound, Virginia, approximately 108 miles (174 km) in length. It is designed to connect Interstate 77/Interstate 64 in West Virginia near Beckley to U.S. Route 23 in Wise County, Virginia at Pound.
While US 121 will not connect directly to U.S. Route 21, it will intersect at the latter road's original alignment, now a part of I-77.
The Coalfields Expressway will depart from U.S. 23 in Pound, Virginia, in Wise County, and roughly follow Virginia State Route 83 in Buchanan County to West Virginia Route 83 in McDowell County, West Virginia. Then it will travel northeast through depressed areas of West Virginia, paralleling West Virginia Route 16 through Wyoming and Raleigh counties. It will then run toward an expanded Interstate 64/Interstate 77 interchange near Beckley. The roadways US 121 will replace are deficient in the fact that the existing roadways have limited passing opportunities, steep grades, and low design speeds.
As of June 2013, 6.9 miles (11.1 km) of US 121 is open to traffic in West Virginia, currently signed as West Virginia Route 121 (WV 121).
In Virginia, the Coalfields Expressway will run for 49.25 miles (79.26 km), following Virginia Route 83 from the West Virginia border to U.S. Highway 23 in Pound. Near the Grundy - Vansant area, U.S. Route 460 will become a new four-lane highway connecting the Coalfields Expressway with Breaks Interstate Park at the Virginia / Kentucky border and Elkhorn City, Kentucky.
Construction started in 1999 with a three-level diamond interchange near Welch in western West Virginia. This will facilate traffic going between the King Coal Highway/Interstate 73/Interstate 74 and the Coalfields Expressway (US 121). Grading work was completed in 2003, but the interchange remains incomplete as of 2010.
Further eastward, work is continuing on a segment of the Expressway in the vicinity of Sophia and Crab Orchard near Beckley totaling 3.5 miles (5.6 km). Grading and preliminary paving operations have been completed, as well as the gradings and bridge construction for a diamond interchange for West Virginia Route 54 and a bridge over West Virginia Route 16. In November 2004, a contract was awarded for paving operations at a cost of $11.5 million from Surveyor Creek Road to the West Virginia Route 16 interchange. With this segment of the Expressway completed, a new tie-in will be complete from Surveyor Creek Road to five-lane West Virginia Route 16, as well as an interchange with West Virginia Route 54.
Two contracts totaling $22.2 million are currently under construction. One projects involves grading and drainage operations on 2.57 miles (4.14 km) of US 121 from Big Ridge to Surveyor Creek Road that involves nearly five million cubic yards (3,800,000 m3) of excavation.
In the fall of 2013, two contracts will be awarded to grade and drain an additional two miles (3.2 km) of US 121 near Helen. It is one of four projects on the horizon to extend the road to Mullens.
Following the election of Governor Jim Justice in 2016, the newly elective Governor began aggressively pushing for the highway's completion. Governor Justice requested $54.4 million for grading in Wyoming County. The construction would be financed through raising taxes. In an upcoming ballot issue to approve of road bonds, Governor Justice allocated $55 million to extend the road from Slab Fork to Mullens and eventually to Welch. The ballot issue passed.
Mileposts are approximate.
|Virginia||Wise||Pound||0.00||0.00||US 23 (Orby Cantrell Highway)||Proposed southern terminus|
|Dickenson||||6.8||10.9||SR 721||Proposed junction|
|||22.45||36.13||SR 80||Proposed junction|
|Buchanan||||27.75||44.66||US 460 west||Proposed interchange at new US 460 alignment; south end of US 460 concurrency|
|||29.75||47.88||SR 614||Proposed junction|
|||US 460 east||Proposed north end of US 460 concurrency|
|||44.25||71.21||SR 643 (Hurley Road)||Proposed junction|
|||SR 83 west||Proposed south end of SR 83 concurrency|
|Virginia–West Virginia line||Buchanan–McDowell county line||||49.25
|SR 83 end / WV 83 begin||Proposed junction|
|West Virginia||McDowell||Bradshaw||7.0||11.3||WV 80 north||Proposed junction|
|||WV 83 east||Proposed north end of WV 83 concurrency|
|Welch||21.0||33.8||US 52||Proposed junction|
|Wyoming||||27.0||43.5||WV 16||Proposed interchange|
|Pineville||35.0||56.3||WV 10||Proposed junction|
|||42.5||68.4||WV 54||Proposed junction|
|Raleigh||||48.6||78.2||CR 34 south (Slab Fork Road)||Temporary southern end|
|||WV 54 south to WV 16 south – Sophia, Mullens||Interchange|
|Sophia||55.5||89.3||WV 16 north (Robert C. Byrd Drive) – Beckley||Interchange; temporary northern end|
|||59.1||95.1||I‑64 / I‑77 (West Virginia Turnpike)||Proposed northern terminus; interchange|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- "Coalfields Expressway project moving forward". 9 June 2013.
- Schmitz, Ali (February 19, 2017). "Justice launches Save Our State Tour in Raleigh County". Charleston Gazette-Mail. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
- Lannom, Andrea (February 9, 2017). "Justice: $450 million tax hike". The Register-Herald. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
- Moore, Annie (September 5, 2017). "W.Va. Governor adds 55 million for Coalfields Expressway in upcoming bond election". WVVA-TV. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
- Stuck, Taylor (October 8, 2017). "Voters approve WV road bond". The Herald-Dispatch. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
- "Route 121 Coalfields Expressway". Virginia Department of Transportation. VDOT. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
- "Coalfields Expressway (Preferred Alternative)". West Virginia Department of Transportation. State of West Virginia. December 31, 2013. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to U.S. Route 121.|
- Official Virginia DOT Coalfields Expressway Web Site
- Official West Virginia DOT Coalfields Expressway Web Site. Coalfields Expressway Authority. 20 June 2003.
- Endpoints of U.S. Highway 121