|Today, travel southward from the Beckley, WV area (West Virginia Turnpike Interstate 64 and Interstate 77) involves two-lane roadways (WV 88 and WV 16) to the Virginia border and VA 88 south to the community of Slate. The Coalfields Expressway will provide motorists with a four-lane partially controlled-access highway.
Studies by the West Virginia Division of Highways
(WVDOH) have confirmed what residents of the area had contended with for years. Traffic flow along the present routes is inhibited by many areas of reduced speeds (in towns and school zones), many "no passing" zones, steep grades and problems created by heavy coal and timber truck traffic.
In highway terminology, the present route is growing increasingly inadequate and, by 2013, 72 percent of the study area will be operating at or below Level of Service D. This means, in lay terms,
that three-quarters of the route is becoming unacceptable to meet today's highway travel needs. Obviously, the Coalfields Expressway will dramatically improve the situation and decrease travel times.
Perhaps most importantly, the Coalfields Expressway will improve motorist safety. The present series of roadways reflect a higher-than-average accident rate according to statewide figures for both West Virginia and Virginia. Substandard curves and steep grades pose problems
in more than 50 percent of the present study area.