US 11 and 121 in West Virginia

By | October 14, 2022

US 11 in West Virginia

US 11
Get started Ridgeway
End Falling Water
Length 26 mi
Length 42 km


US 11 is a US Highway in the US state of West Virginia. The road forms a north-south route through the far east of the state, from the Virginia border through Martinsburg to the Maryland border. US 11 is 42 kilometers long in West Virginia.

  • WATCHTUTORIALS.ORG: Features why West Virginia has the nickname as Mountain State and its economy, history and geography.

Travel directions

US 11 passes through the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, the easternmost part of the state, and runs the entire route parallel to Interstate 81 in West Virginia, through the eastern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Martinsburg is the only place of significance on the route. US 11 in Maryland continues to Hagerstown.


US 11 was created in 1926 and the route in West Virginia has not changed significantly since then. In 1909, the first bridge over the Potomac River opened on the Maryland border. This was a toll bridge until 1958. Between 1963 and 1966, Interstate 81 was built parallel to US 11, so that US 11 no longer has through-importance.

  • Provides state overview of West Virginia and its alternative name as The Mountain State

US 121

US 121
Get started pound
End Beckley
Length 110 mi
Length 177 km






US 121, also known as the Coalfields Expressway, is a planned U.S. Highway in the United States, located in the states of Virginia and West Virginia. The road is to form a diagonal north-south route through the Appalachian Mountains, from Pound in Virginia to Beckley in West Virginia. The planned length is approximately 177 kilometers.

Travel directions

The Coalfields Expressway at Mullens, West Virginia.


US 121 begins at Pound on US 23 and then travels northeast, parallel to the Kentucky border, through a heavily hilly and wooded area with only local roads. At Grundy, the route crosses US 460, then the border with West Virginia.

West Virginia

Also in West Virginia, US 121 passes through mountainous terrain with very narrow valleys and relatively large elevation changes over a short distance. The route continues through Pineville to the town of Beckley, where it intersects Interstate 64 and Interstate 77. US 121 ends in the town of Beckley. Beckley is also the largest town on the route.


US 121 was one of the original US Highways of 1926, this route ran north-south from Wytheville, Virginia to Lexington, North Carolina. In 1934, however, US 52 was extended to the southeast, taking over the route of the original US 121, which ceased to exist.

Coalfields Expressway

The current US 121 was introduced in 2005, although no part of the route was actually built for a long time.

The Coalfields Expressway is an expressway according to the definition of the MUTCD, basically a divided highway with 2×2 lanes, but not completely grade separated access. The Coalfields Expressway is intended to open up a backward and isolated area. Travel times in this area are much longer than elsewhere in the Appalachian Mountains due to the lack of high-quality and fast roads. The counties through which the Coalfields Expressway passes are in severe poverty and experiencing a sharply declining population.

Planning for the Coalfields Expressway began in 1995 when the route was incorporated into the National Highway System (NHS). However, it is not one of the routes of the Appalachian Development Highway System. Construction began on a section at Welch in West Virginia in 1999, but was never completed. The first section of US 121 to be completed was southwest of Beckley, where an approximately five-mile section has been in use since 2004-2005, designated as State Route 121. On October 1, 2020, an extension of 14 kilometers to Mullens opened.


The Coalfields Expressway is being constructed by the Coalfields Expressway Authority in West Virginia, and the Virginia Department of Transportation. The construction of US 121 is technically difficult because of the difficult terrain with many height differences and very narrow valleys that barely fit a village. Viaducts and excavations are necessary in many places. The cost of the Coalfields Expressway is estimated at $3.1 billion in 2021.


Construction of the Virginia portion is estimated at $5.1 billion using traditional construction methods, but with the development of coal mines, this could be reduced to $2.8 billion. Due to the high costs compared to low use, the progress of the project is minimal. The part in Virginia is about 80 kilometers long.

West Virginia

Progress in West Virginia is also slow. This part is approximately 85 kilometers long. Between 2022 and 2026, an 8-kilometer section was constructed at Welch. Construction began on August 1, 2022.

US 121