Michelle Earl 276-696-3283


Sept. 17, 2014

Location public hearing scheduled for portion of Route 121 (Coalfields Expressway) in Buchanan County
Tuesday, September 23 from 5 - 7 p.m. at Riverview Elementary School in Grundy

BRISTOL - The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will hold a location public hearing this month to review alignment changes to a section of the Route 121 (Coalfields Expressway) in Buchanan County.

The public hearing will be held Tuesday, September 23 from 5-7 p.m. at Riverview Elementary School, 27382 Riverside Drive, Grundy, Virginia  24614.  In the event of inclement weather, the alternate date for the public meeting is September 25 from 5-7 p.m. at the same location. 

The purpose of the meeting is to give citizens an opportunity to review and discuss location plans for section IIIB of Route 121, an approximately 15-mile section of the route located in Buchanan County that extends from Route 614 to Route 643.The proposed changes result in a modified roadway alignment that is shorter than the previously approved alignment and provides for a connector to existing Route 460 in Grundy. 

VDOT encourages all interested citizens to attend the public hearing. To give citizens more flexibility in their participation, there will be no formal presentation. Instead, citizens will be able to review maps, drawings and other materials explaining the proposed project and discuss the plans with VDOT representatives at their convenience anytime between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Also, citizens will have an opportunity to record verbal comments for the official record anytime during the meeting. Written comments will be accepted during the meeting or may be submitted to VDOT by October 6, 2014.

Maps and other materials pertaining to the project are available for review at the VDOT Bristol District Office, 870 Bonham Road, Bristol, Virginia.  For additional information, or if you require special assistance to participate in the meeting, please call the VDOT District Office at (276) 669-6151 or device for hearing impaired (TTY) at 711.              

Public hearing documents are also accessible from VDOT’s website:


Project Background

A portion of Environmental Section IIIB of Route 121 is part of federally designated Corridor Q, part of the Appalachian Development Highway System which travels through Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia and generally follows the Route 460 corridor with some sections on new location. 

Corridor Q stretches eastward from the Virginia/Kentucky state line to Christiansburg, a distance of 127.5 miles.  Approximately fourteen miles of Corridor Q in Virginia remain uncompleted:

  • Route 460 Connector Phase I: currently under construction at the Virginia/Kentucky state line near Breaks Interstate Park
  • Route 460 Connector Phase II: being designed; contract includes construction to rough grade
  • Connection with Route 121: design/construction contract currently being negotiated with VDOT’s public-private partners
  • Hawks Nest segment of Corridor Q/Route 121: completed to rough grade
  • Poplar Creek segment of Corridor Q/Route 121: preliminary engineering is underway.  The Poplar Creek construction segment is part of environmental section IIIB.

The Corridor Q/Route 121 projects in Virginia will provide a modern and safe transportation network as well as provide economic development opportunities for Buchanan, Wise and Dickenson counties.

A 2013 economic impact study by Chmura Economics and Analytics regarding Route 121 found that the economic impact in Virginia over the 17-year construction of the 50-mile route was estimated at $4.1 billion.  The study also showed a $3 rate of return for every $1 invested in Route 121.  Full study available on

In addition to the economic benefits, other benefits include:

  • Improved travel times: Route 83, the area’s only major east-west roadway, is a predominantly two-lane rural road.  Construction of Route 121 will greatly improve traffic flow and corridor mobility, cutting travel times in half. 
  •  Improved access: Improved access to health care, employment and education.
  • Employment opportunities:  Over 29,000 jobs are anticipated to be created during construction. 
  • Improve safety: Since Route 121 would be a four-lane, divided facility, it would eliminate safety hazards caused by passing vehicles and greatly reduce the risk of head-on collisions.  Route 121 should reduce accident rates along the corridor by attracting truck and other vehicular traffic from Route 83.   

Buchanan County is also working to construct the three-phase Southern Gap Development Site adjacent to the Corridor Q/Route 121 projects.  The site already houses the Sykes Call Center that employs over 300 people, and includes housing, a ball park, fairgrounds and a small race track.  The site will have 1,300 acres of developable land versus 90 total acres currently available within the county.  A proposed local access road for connection to Corridor Q/Route 121 is being planned. 

The coal synergy concept being used as part of a public private partnership for the construction of many of the Corridor Q and Route 121 projects also saves money for Virginia.  By using private partners’ larger scale earth moving equipment, construction techniques to prepare the roadbed and revenue from extraction of incidental coal, VDOT has the potential to save 45% of the construction costs to rough grade.

All coal extracted from the corridor will be incidental to the roadway construction.  Incidental coal recovery is regulated by the federal Office of Surface Mining and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy’s Division of Mined Land Reclamation.

For more information regarding incidental coal recovery, click here to see the public hearing display boards. 

Route 121 is designated as a Congressional High Priority Corridor and both highways are part of the National Highway System.  Currently, two miles of Route 121 have been completed to rough grade, twelve miles are being designed and preliminary engineering is being negotiated for approximately 16 miles. 

Twelve miles of Route 121 have National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) approval to move forward to construction.  Environmental evaluations are underway for 38 miles of the route by VDOT in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  Section IIIB is approximately 15 miles long.

Route 121 will better serve the movement of goods and services through multiple states as well as regionally.  Route 121 will ultimately connect to Interstates 64 and 77 in West Virginia and Corridor Q links to Route 121 and Kentucky’s Corridor Q efforts.   



Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: Sept. 17, 2014