Head of the Bureau of Commerce-Tourism Betty Carver reported in 2006 $24 million was spent by people traveling through Mingo County, which generated 250 jobs. The travel generated local tax during that time frame totaling $36,000, with a sum of $1.618 million generated both state and locally. She said the top call inquirers received at the center were about the Hatfield-McCoy Trails and Hatfield-McCoy Festival.
Executive director of King Coal Highway Mike Mitchem believes that over 63 million traveling along the proposed route should allow economic development and tourism growth for years to come.
The King Coal Hwy. will travel from Bluefield to Belo and connect to Corridor G on W.Va. Route 119. The Tolsia Hwy. will connect the other side of Corridor G W.Va. Route 119 and travel to Kenova where it will connect at Exit 1 with I-64.
“These highways are the West Virginia Corridors of I-73/74 which is the number 5 high priority corridor in the nation,” Mitchem said. “It will travel from Sault St. Marie, Michigan to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on I-73 Route and to Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Chicago and Davenport, Iowa on Rt. I-74.”
Mitchem said the 12-mile section of King Coal Highway near Red Jacket to Horsepen Mountain should be completed by 2010 with two of the four lanes paved. He said construction being done by Alpha Resources will save the state over $300 million.
He said currently Cosole Energy is trying to obtain a permit to construct five miles of KCH from Delbarton to Belo where it will hook up with Corridor G at no cost to taxpayers except for paving. The King Coal Highway authority plans to request funding for the 5.7 mile section in between sections from Mary Taylor Mountain to Buffalo Mountain during the April 2 meeting with West Virginia Congressional Delegation at Washington DC.
“These sections will complete most of the highway in Mingo County and help with economic development projects that Mingo County Redevelopment is currently working on,” Mitchem said. “And add to the safety of travel to Mingo County residents.”
Mitchem paid special thanks to the governor, senators and delegates for providing the 20 percent match for the federal projects.
The Web site reports the “King Coal Highway – a new four-lane highway with partially controlled access between Williamson and Bluefield – has been designated as ‘a high priority segment of a high priority corridor in the National Highway System.’ (United States Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act - 1991) It ultimately will cover approximately 90 miles of mountainous southern West Virginia, opening it up to faster, safer transportation.”