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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 7, 2004
Contact: Brian Keeter, Telephone: (202) 366-0660
FHWA 05-04

Federal Highway Administrator Touts Administration Investment in King Coal Highway; Praises Jobs, Economic Opportunity It Will Bring to Appalachia

Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters today praised the King Coal Highway project as an innovative public-private partnership that will spur economic opportunity in Appalachia, save millions in taxpayer dollars and cut years off the construction time.

"The Bush administration's investment in the King Coal Highway will pay ample dividends for the people in this region, bringing with it jobs, economic diversity and opportunity for southern West Virginia and surrounding states," said Peters.

Peters joined local officials at a groundbreaking ceremony for an 11-mile section of the highway near Red Jacket, WV. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which will provide $15 million for initial highway fill construction, has worked closely with the WV Dept. of Transportation and a partnership of state and local government agencies and private industry on the project.

She expressed optimism over the plan that would allow mining companies to place in designated areas the excess material generated by coal mining activity, thus creating the roadbed for the future highway. It will save an estimated $150 million off the total anticipated construction cost of the 93-mile corridor.

Peters also noted the new approach will mean the project can be completed sooner. The start date for the Red Jacket section was accelerated to 2004 from 2009, and the construction schedule is shortened by at least one year. "The partnership serves as a potential model for other transportation projects in Appalachia," said Peters.

When completed, the four-lane King Coal Highway will stretch from Williamson to Bluefield, WV, as part of the Interstate 73/74 corridor running through the southern part of the state.

Peters said the King Coal Highway is evidence of the Bush administration's commitment to keep the West Virginia economy moving. "We're working hard to spur economic opportunity along the route," she said.

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