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The portion of U.S. 52 in southern West Virginia that runs between Kenova in Wayne County and Williamson in Mingo County is often called the Tolsia Highway.

The acronym is taken from the Tug-Ohio-Levisa-Sandy Improvement Association, a group of local business people and community leaders who successfully lobbied in the 1950s and 1960s to have a new roadway constructed along the Big Sandy River.

Once the new road was built, the U.S. 52 designation which previously had applied to the road connecting Huntington and Crum was moved to the new road. The old road was renumbered as U.S. 152.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a series of traffic fatalities, many of them involving dangerously overloaded coal trucks, prompted some West Virginians to cite the Tolsia Highway as the most dangerous road in the state. In response, state and federal officials pressed ahead with plans for upgrading it from a two-lane roadway to a four-lane divided highway.

The new, upgraded road will be built in three sections, the first from Kenova to Fort Gay, the second from Fort Gay to Crum, and the third from Crum to Kermit. Construction on the upgrade, estimated to cost more than $800 million, began in 1996 and was expected to take a decade or longer to complete.

Tolsia Highway is part of another highway project, the King Coal Highway, a proposed four-lane highway stretching between Williamson and Bluefield. The 93-mile highway will be part of Interstate 73.

This Article was written by James E. Casto

Last Revised on July 26, 2012

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Cite This Article

Casto, James E. "Tolsia Highway." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 26 July 2012. Web. 16 September 2014.

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