Mining operations under I-70 near the West Virginia and Pennsylvania border have begun and will cause delays for commuters. These specific lane closures will last until at least the end of May, and this is just the first leg of many in the marathon of destroying and rebuilding the highway. PennDOT executives estimate that the highway will fall two(2) to five(5) feet for this particular stretch of highway.
The Alliance Coal Company’s Tunnel Ridge Mine, currently near West Alexander, PA, will have an active panel beneath I-70 during the next phase of longwall mining, and the company said the process will occur nine(9) more times between now and 2038 under the highway.
More than a decade ago longwall mining took place under I-79 between the Waynesburg and Kirby exits in PA. Due to the mining, PennDOT had constant monitoring of the highway, with repairs made regularly when subsidence (the sudden collapsing of the ground) occurred. A report from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the University of Pittsburgh found that PA taxpayers spent $19 million to monitor and repair this section of 1-79. Again, taxpayers are left to cover the bill for a multi-billion dollar industry. How much will it cost taxpayers if they continue this destruction for another 19 years?
The statement from a PennDOT executive claiming this work would continue until 2038 shows the friendly relations our state has with coal, because permits have not been issued through 2038. According to their active permits, they are only authorized for the next few years. Will we still even be mining coal in 2038? The state should not just assume that all of these permits will be issued or coal will still have a market in the next ten years.