Agreement in place to complete Corridor Q road project
The final phase of a longstanding highway project that extends 127.5 miles in Virginia from the Kentucky state line near Breaks Interstate Park to Interstate 81 near Christiansburg is about to come to fruition.
Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday announced a comprehensive agreement to construct the $207 million Route 460/121 Poplar Creek “Phase B” project in Buchanan County.
The project—known as Corridor Q—is part of the National Highway System. Poplar Creek Phase B is just under two miles in length and will be a two-lane roadway with climbing lanes as needed, stretching from the east end of Route 460/121 Poplar Creek Phase A near Route 604 (Poplar Creek Road) to existing Route 460 at Grundy.
The completion of the final phase of Corridor Q construction in Virginia will significantly reduce regional travel times between the communities of Southwest Virginia and neighboring Kentucky.
“Our administration is again making good on its commitment to support rural Virginia, achieving a critical transportation milestone over 60 years in the making,” Northam said. “By moving forward with Poplar Creek Phase B, Virginia is providing improved transportation for the residents of this region and opening up this part of Southwest Virginia to increased economic investment.”
Corridor Q is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System, authorized by Congress in 1965 as part of the Appalachian Development Act. The Appalachian Development Highway System is the centerpiece of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s effort to foster economic and social development in the multi-state Appalachian region.
Poplar Creek Phase B will better connect residents of the area to jobs, health care, and education, open the region for economic development and improve interstate commerce.
“Due to the rugged terrain, the final miles of Corridor Q in Virginia mark some of the most challenging to construct,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “These new miles of roadway are anticipated to be finalized in mid-2026 and will enable safer and more efficient transportation options while creating opportunities for economic growth in the region.”
While the majority of funds used for the Corridor Q projects in Buchanan County to date have been state matched federal funds, the advancement of the construction of Poplar Creek Phase B at this time was made possible by flexibility provided by the 2020 Transportation Omnibus Legislation.
“It has been a priority to get this final phase of Corridor Q to fruition, and I am proud that we are here,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich. “This connection will provide better regional connections supporting local traffic, freight access and tourism.”
A distinctive feature of the Corridor Q projects in Buchanan County is the use of the coal synergy process. VDOT and its public-private partner Bizzack Construction LLC, incorporated the coal synergy process into the majority of the projects, reducing road-building costs by using larger earth-moving machinery traditionally used by coal companies to prepare the road bed to rough grade, and allowing the company to recover merchantable coal reserves during the road bed preparation.
Bizzack Construction LLC has performed the majority of the design and construction for the new portions of roadway, as well as serving as contractor on past widening projects in the Grundy area.
“Like so many at VDOT who have worked on Corridor Q projects in Virginia for decades, Bizzack has been a part of these projects and is proud to be Virginia’s partner in reaching the milestone of completing Corridor Q,” said Bizzack Construction LLC President Gary Taylor.
The first mile of new Corridor Q construction in Buchanan County, located at the Virginia and Kentucky state line, opened to traffic fall 2020.
In 2023, motorists will be driving on eight additional miles of Corridor Q from near the Virginia state line to the Southern Gap area in Grundy (Route 744). Paving projects for that section began in late 2021.