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Locals see boost from Coalfields Expressway completion, look toward next phase of project

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MULLENS, W.Va. (WVVA) It has been three weeks since the completion of the first leg of the Coalfields Expressway and locals said Saturday they are already experiencing a boost from the project.

The 30 million dollar project cuts several minutes off of the commute from Beckley to Mullens.

Kent McBridge lives right off of the outlet in Mullens and said he sees as many as 400 cars on the road an hour. The project has also shortened his drive to his business in Crab Orchard.

"What you're getting is people coming from McDowell County using this road as their traffic outlet. And people going to Pineville, some will go to Maben, but now some will go on the new road. There is no way you can have a four-lane road come to your town and not think it's going to help."

David 'Bugs' Stover is running unopposed for the 9th district Senate seat. As the presumptive winner, he said his number one goal in office will be the next phase of the road.

"Right above us they're going to build a 27 million dollar bridge crossing to the ridge (from the outlet to Mullens). They're not going to build that bridge until there's some highway on the other side of it is my guess. It's a lot of money. This new nine miles costs 30 million... so you're looking at 75 percent of the cost just for that bridge. They're going to start near the prison and come back toward Wyoming County."

Stover acknowledges that funding for the bridge may have more than what the state has to offer right now.

"If the feds can get their act together and get an infrastructure bill passed, we can get that road built to Virginia in the next 15 years. Other than that, whoever is governor is going to work hard to get it done."

After all, Stover said it's not just a road, it's a desperately needed path to prosperity.

Annie Moore

Multimedia Journalist

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