PAMELA SCOTT JOHNSON Staff Writer
April 18, 2013
Julia Roberts Goad
A meeting to share information as well as to get input about the King Coal Highway will be held next week, and the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority (MCRA) is asking the public to attend.
The meeting will be held Monday, April 22, 2013, at 4:30 p.m. at Mingo Central High School.
An information workshop will be conducted in the MCHS commons area from 4:30 to 5:30, and the public hearing will be conducted from 5:30 to 7:30 in the MCHS auditorium.
The meeting will address issues regarding the combining of the highway department’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Study of the 94 mile long King Coal Highway corridor with Consol’s proposed Buffalo Mountain surface mine. The end result, if permitted, will allow future highway construction to occur on flat land created by a surface mining operation.
The KCH was estimated to cost $198.8 million. However, using a private-public partnership, has brought the cost down to $88 million.
At a prior meeting, Greg Bailey, Director of Engineering at the West Virginia Department of Highways, explained that the portion of the highway that has been completed would not have been built without the private-public partnership of coal companies, the state of West Virginia and the MCRA.
Bailey said that the highway budget for West Virginia has steadily decreased in the past five or six years, and the $110 million savings that would be seen using the private-public partnership to mine the land and build the highway makes the project possible.
“Under the budget proposed in Washington, the budget for the entire W.Va. highway department would be $500 million,” he explained. “In West Virginia, $110 million is a huge financial impact.
The highway will run through McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Wyoming and Wayne Counties along currently existing US Route 52. The highway will It ultimately will cover approximately 90 miles of southern West Virginia.
The KCH is a major project for MCRA.
“This project falls directly in line with the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority’s post mine land use initiatives,” said Leahsa Johnson, Deputy Executive Director of MCRA. We have partnered with Consol Energy, Cotiga Development and the regulatory agencies to support this permit application, not only in a mining capacity, but also as it pertains to Mingo County’s Land Use Master Plan, the potential for construction of another section of the newly named Mike Whitt Visionary Leadership Highway in Mingo County, and the proposed creation of additional flat land which is vital to our future economic diversification efforts.”