NEW RICHMOND – When Gov. Jim Justice held the first groundbreaking ceremony for the improvements to W.Va. 10 last summer, he emphasized the need for patience because the construction would take a few years.
During the Thursday afternoon ceremony at Wyoming County East High School, however, state Division of Highways officials were estimating the improvements would be nearly complete by the end of next year.
The final contract for the last section in Mercer County will be bid July 16, two days shy of the one-year anniversary of Justice's first Rt. 10 groundbreaking ceremony in Logan County.
The 69 miles of two-lane road improvements runs from Man, in Logan County, to Kegley, in Mercer County, across a large portion of Wyoming County – including Cyclone, Oceana, Jesse, Pineville, New Richmond, Mullens, Herndon, among other communities.
Designed in only 99 days, the $90 million project will include replacement or improvements to 17 bridges, several intersections, construction of passing lanes and truck turn-outs where space is available, lanes will be widened to 12 feet with two- to three-foot shoulders, and many of the curves will be widened and re-aligned – unprecedented on a two-lane road in West Virginia, officials maintain.
Funding for the Wyoming and Mercer County sections comes from the Roads to Prosperity bond referendum.
With the Logan County segment completed, contractors are already on the job in Wyoming County, according to Jimmy Wriston, state DOH deputy secretary.
Several crews are already working on Herndon Mountain, he said, with multiple crews working all along the route.
Oceana and Jesse bridges are among those to be replaced.
Drivers will have a detour in Jesse, near the newly opened E-Z Stop, while the new bridge is constructed.
In Oceana, however, motorists will traverse one-lane of the bridge as the new bridge is constructed one lane at a time.
“This bridge will be the centerpiece,” Wriston said of the Oceana structure.
The current structure has a crash rate that is 10 times the state average, he said.
That will not be the case with the new bridge, which will also include a turn lane, Wriston said.
The new span is already under contract, he said, though he did not provide the exact date construction will begin.
Byrd White, secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, said state roads had been neglected for decades and that without the “big ideas” of the governor, improvements would not be underway now.
“These roads (Coalfields Expressway and Rt. 10) will bring this area of the world back into real time and all kinds of stuff will start happening,” Justice said, adding it make the ride to the local convenience store much safer as well.
“There isn't anything prettier than southern West Virginia,” the governor said. “There was just no way to get here.”