End of US highway 121

View a map showing this route.

Photo credits: H.B. Elkins, Alex Nitzman

Approx. time period North terminus South terminus
2005-present Beckley, WV Pound, VA

The first US 121 was among the original routes of 1926, but it lasted only until 1934 - you can read more about it on this page.

70 years later, the US 121 designation was recycled, when it was requested by the states of Virginia and West Virginia. AASHTO approved the designation in 2005 (despite the fact that none of the highway had been built at the time, and despite the fact that it does not connect with US 21. US x19 would've been a more appropriate number). Better known locally as the Coalfields Expressway, the vast majority of US 121 is still in the planning stage, and I don't think it's expected to be completed for quite some time. However, there is a short section near the northern terminus in Beckley that is open to traffic, and the road is slowly being extended westward. This segment has been signed as WV 121:

Elkins, July 2008

There's another one heading the opposite direction:

Elkins, July 2008

They ought to get that problem fixed before more incorrect signs get posted. Continuing north, US 121 merges with WV 16/97 and connects with I-64/77. The WV 97 designation ends at that interchange...

Elkins, July 2008

...and it's possible that junction will serve as a temporary north end of US 121 in the future. However, my understanding is the ultimate plan is to tie US 121 into the interchange where I-64 and I-77 split, just south of Beckley. Below is a photo taken from westbound I-64:

Nitzman, June 2005

This is essentially a "T" junction: I-77 runs left and right across the photo, and I-64 joins northbound I-77 to the right. I believe the plan is to make this a 4-way interchange, with US 121 beginning straight ahead, and joining with the existing segment near Sophia.

At the south end, US 121 is planned to end at US 23 near Pound, VA. From what I've seen, it looks like the highway will tie in to the north of town, right about where VA 630 currently connects with US 23:

Google Maps Street View, 2008

That's looking north on US 23, which curves off to the left. To the right is VA 630, which curves down the valley to the right. This may be right about where US 121 will connect. Heading that direction, it will probably be signed "north", even though it's actually more "east". So when the road is complete, you will be able to use it to travel eastward from Virginia into West Virginia!