WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.), working with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), brought together more than 30 local, state and federal leaders in Washington this week to discuss how to get the King Coal Highway project moving again.
Buffalo Mountain, a critical component of completing this much-needed highway, was the main focus of the meeting. The site is an important public-private partnership that would lower costs for taxpayers, and the development project would also provide hundreds of acres of flat land to be used for future economic development.
Participants included Sen. Capito, a representative from the office of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and multiple officials and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Highway Administration.
On the state and local level, participants included the West Virginia Department of Transportation, the King Coal Highway Authority, the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, Booth Energy, and the Cotiga Development Company.
“Southern West Virginia needs the King Coal Highway. With President Trump’s intent to build up our nation’s infrastructure, we have an opportunity to create momentum, cut through red tape, and get the King Coal Highway back on track. The Buffalo Mountain project represents one of the key segments for the corridor and is vital to its completion. I am encouraged by the progress we made at this meeting by bringing together so many different agencies and partners. We cannot afford to leave this project on the sidelines any longer – it’s time to get West Virginia moving again,” Rep. Jenkins said.
“It will take all of us – elected officials, state and federal agencies, and private-sector stakeholders – to complete this important project, but the value of the King Coal Highway to this region cannot be overstated. Its completion will better link communities both in West Virginia and in our neighboring states and expand our growing connection with the mid-Atlantic region. I look forward to working with Congressman Jenkins, other policymakers, and our partners in the private sector to help finish this effort and drive economic growth and development in the region,” Sen. Capito said.
“The collaboration of the federal and state agencies with private corporations was impressive. I believe the King Coal Highway Buffalo Mountain project will now become a reality. The economic benefits of this project will benefit Southern West Virginia for decades to come,” King Coal Highway Authority Executive Director Mike Mitchem said.
“On behalf of Mingo County, I’m incredibly grateful for Congressman Jenkins’ attention to developing the King Coal Highway in southern West Virginia. His convening of federal and state agencies with local leaders and stakeholders to discuss the Buffalo Mountain section of highway marks a firm commitment to streamlining the permitting process that has delayed this innovative public/private partnership for several years. The economic benefits of constructing five miles of highway as a post-mine land use project are numerous. It will provide a direct transportation facility to more than 780 acres of developable property that’s critical to Mingo County’s economic diversification needs. It will provide hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, the creation of which will increase both coal severance and income tax collections for the county and the state. And most significantly, at a time when transportation funds are shrinking, construction of roadbed in accordance with Mingo County’s Land Use Master Plan will leverage savings of approximately $125 million of federal and state transportation tax dollars, an amount unlikely to be appropriated in the absence of this public/private partnership,” Mingo County Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Leasha Johnson said.