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Michelle Earl 276-669-9999
Michelle.Earl@vdot.virginia.gov
423-335-6693 cell
CO-0912

March 23, 2009



VDOT RECEIVES GRANTS TO ADVANCE COALFIELDS EXPRESSWAY
Two grants valued at $5 million each to advance Hawk's Nest and Rockhouse sections

ABINGDON – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) today announced the receipt of two additional $5 million Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund grants to advance construction of the Coalfields Expressway in southwestern Virginia.

These awards supplement two $5 million grants approved by Gov. Tim Kaine for the project in April 2008.

The $20 million in total grants will be used by VDOT and its private partners, Alpha Natural Resources LLC and Pioneer Group Inc., for project development activities and the construction of certain phases of the Hawks Nest and Rockhouse sections of the expressway.

The first of these grants will go toward establishing a rough grade roadbed for the Hawk’s Nest portion of the expressway, which is located adjacent to the proposed Route 460 Connector interchange and Route 614 in Buchanan County.

The second grant will go toward establishing a rough grade roadbed for a portion of the Rockhouse section of the expressway, which is located between the West Virginia/Virginia state line and Route 643 in Buchanan County.

“This grant funding is an investment in the future of southwest Virginia, and is a testament to the commonwealth’s commitment to finding innovative solutions in partnership with federal, state and local officials and the private sector to move this project forward,” said Jim Bowie, Bristol District representative on the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

The Coalfields Expressway – U.S. Route 121 – is a proposed four-lane highway stretching 51 miles from Pound in Wise County through Dickenson and Buchanan counties to the West Virginia line.

It will provide a modern, safe and efficient highway through the coalfields region of southwestern Virginia.

It is expected that the entire multi-state Appalachian region should see a boost in commerce and tourism as a result of the Coalfields Expressway.

Designated as part of the national highway system, the new road will link Interstates 64 and 77 in West Virginia with Routes 23 and 460 in Virginia.

The Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund, created in 2005, is to be used to encourage the development of transportation projects through the design-build provisions of the Code of Virginia and pursuant to the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995.

The governor may also use the fund to provide grants, revolving loans, or other forms of financial assistance to address the transportation aspects of economic development opportunities.

For more information and a map of the Coalfields Expressway project, visit http://www­.virginiadot.org/projects/bristol/coalfields_expressway.asp.

To learn more about the TPOF, visit http://www­.virginiadot.org/projects/tpof.asp.


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