Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, along with Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox, Congressman Nick Rahall and the Coalfields Expressway Authority, today announced plans to advertise for the Request of Qualifications (RFQ) of the Division of Highways' first Private Public Partnership (PPP) project under Senate Bill 190, enacted this past legislative session.
This 3.3-mile section of the Coalfields Expressway will connect Mullens to existing sections already under construction and, when complete, open the expressway from I-64/I-77 to Mullens (nearly 19 miles).
"This is great news for southern West Virginia and people across the state," Gov. Tomblin said. "A solid infrastructure helps provide our communities with additional economic development opportunities, and the public-private partnership concept is a great example of how state government and the private sector can work together to improve the quality of life for our residents. I appreciate the contributions of all involved in making this request for qualifications announcement possible."
"I appreciate the leadership of Governor Tomblin in seeing this important procurement method move through the legislative process," Secretary Mattox said. "The PPP is another valuable tool to continue to preserve, maintain and build highways infrastructure in West Virginia. Additionally, I would like to recognize Congressman Rahall's support with not only this important project, but every transportation issue we've faced."
"Our state is breaking new ground with this partnership agreement," said Congressman Rahall, top Democrat of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "It is most welcome news for the Coalfields Expressway, but it is equally promising news for other highway projects as well. Innovative financing is a true asset in attracting every available federal and other funding dollar to build our highways and the jobs that come with them. Richard Browning's leadership in the Legislature and Governor Tomblin's broad vision have been central in this progress and a bold fully funded federal transportation bill will keep it moving forward."
"The Coalfields Expressway Authority is very pleased with this announcement by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin that the bidding process for the at-grade construction of the remaining two miles of Coalfields Expressway and connector road to Mullens has begun," said Richard Browning, executive director of the Coalfields Expressway Authority. "Hopefully, the highway can be opened up for usage from Mullens to Beckley very soon after this construction is complete. Completion of this link is an important milestone in the evolution of the Coalfields Expressway. The authority would like to thank Governor Earl Ray Tomblin for embracing this new concept of public-private partnership for highway construction in West Virginia, Congressman Nick Rahall for providing the funding through federal highway legislation and congressional earmarks for the Coalfields Expressway over the years, and the West Virginia Division of Highways for embracing the PPP concept and for their dedication and funding for the project. Using this type of bidding for highway construction should result in the delivery of the project to the residents of the area quicker and cheaper."
The Coalfields Expressway project is multi-lane expressway connecting I-64/I-77 at Beckley and U.S. 23 near Grundy. It is expected to promote economic development opportunities for this region. In West Virginia, the Coalfields Expressway will be about 65 miles long, while in Virginia, the length of the corridor will be about 50 miles.
Final bids for Coalfields Public Private Partnership project are expected to be opened in December with construction anticipated to begin Spring 2015.