With construction on the King Coal Highway extension project from Bluefield to Airport Road slated for completion later this year, officials are hoping to have land in that area ready for potential development. The city of Bluefield already owns 400 acres of land near Kee Dam, and the city board voted last month to purchase another 100 acres of land adjacent to the new intersection that is currently under construction.

Once work is finished on the current $57 million King Coal Highway contract, a new interstate exit/entrance ramp will be located in the area after a new bridge crosses the upper part of Kee Dam and Airport Road.

Work on that new bridge is currently visible to motorists traveling Airport Road.

When the project is finished, northbound traffic off of Interstate 77 will use the King Coal Highway extension to reach U.S. Route 52 and then Brushfork, Bluewell, Bramwell and McDowell County.

“Most of the ATV traffic will exit there (at Kee Dam),” Interim City Manager/City Attorney Colin Cline told members of the Board of Directors last month. “This is highly developable property.”

The city has already started timbering some of the property it already owns there to get the land ready for development, but exactly what will be located there has not yet been decided upon. However, the project will most likely include a recreational component. 

The land purchase involves three parcels at a cost of approximately $150,000.

Given that traffic will be exiting I-77 onto the future Interstate 73 corridor near Bluefield, the land in question is well suited for development, particularly considering the volume of interstate traffic that will be entering and exiting near Airport Road.

The King Coal Highway, which could be in line for additional funding as part of the federal infrastructure bill that lawmakers are still working on in Washington, is part of the national I-73/74/75 interstate system that, when finished, will run from Detroit, Mich., to Myrtle Beach, S.C., bringing more people through the state each year, and across Mercer County.

It is only prudent for city officials to try to take advantage of the traffic which will be passing through the intersection of the King Coal Highway and Route 123. That’s why it is imperative to have a developable site of land ready in the area for potential businesses and industry.

The site in question would be an ideal location for retail, commercial and recreational development. It is our hope that the 500 acres of land the city now owns can be utilized in the near future.

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