Contact: Cat McCue, Communications Director, 434-293-6373, email@example.com
The Commonwealth Transportation Board today voted to approve a re-routing of a 4-mile highway project near Grundy. The project, called “Section lllB,” is part of the overall proposed Coalfields Expressway in Southwest Virginia, which has drawn considerable controversy among local citizens and organizations.
Several citizens addressed the board prior to the vote to raise concerns about the environmental impacts of the coal strip mining that would be part of Section lllB. Kate Rooth of Appalachian Voices submitted comments from 125 Virginians who want state funding to go towards alternative transportation projects that could be achieved sooner and would yield greater economic benefits and protect the region’s environmental assets.
Marley Green, a Southwest Virginia resident and representative of the Sierra Club, also spoke to the board about the community’s concerns and provided taped interviews of several other citizens who could not attend in person.
The board did not discuss the concerns about environmental or other impacts prior to the vote.
“It’s disappointing the board members didn’t fully acknowledge our concerns. While this section of highway may one day bring good things to the community, it should not include any mountaintop removal. I’m not convinced VDOT will make sure this road doesn’t harm our streams, our drinking water, our health,” Green said.
“We continue to press VDOT, and the Federal Highway Administration to consider the full impacts that the larger Coalfields Expressway pose to the region and to consider alternatives,” Rooth said. “If the purpose of building this road is to improve economic development, then destroying the natural resources with any surface coal mining is in direct competition with that objective.”