I-74: The origin of I-74 coming to West Virginia is the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 which established I-73/74 North-South Corridor as a high priority corridor on the national highway system. The corridor had the specific endpoints of Charleston SC and Detroit MI, describing in part these intermediate locations "...Winston-Salem NC to Portsmouth OH..." While West Virginia was not explicitly listed, there were 3 projects receiving funding in this bill explicitly for I-73/74:
1. 3-corner Junction to I-77 ($4.5M)
2. Widening US 52 from Huntington to Williamson ($100M)
3. Replacement of US 52 from Williamson to I-77 ($14M)
The National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 added a description of the route to following US 52 from Portsmouth OH to Bluefield, then US 460 to Virginia. Huntington to Williamson is the future Tolsia Highway and Williamson to Bluefield is the King Coal Highway.
In 1995 the Tolsia Highway EIS indicated the design would be for a 4-lane divided, partially controlled highway. So not to interstate standards.
In 2000 the King Coal Highway EIS evaluated 12 different build alternatives and ALL of them were 4-lane divided, partially controlled access facilities. So not to interstate standards.
The following segments of this corridor have been completed:
King Coal Highway
US 460 from Virginia to US 52 (1973)
US 52 from I-77 to US 460 (1976)
Future US 52 from US 460 to WV 123 (under construction)
WV 44 to WV 65 (2011)
US 119 from US 52 to WV 65 (1977)
Future US 52 Crum Bypass (2001)
US 52 Prichard Bypass (1998)
US 52 from WV 75 to near I-64 (btw. 1999-2001)
There has been zero evidence West Virginia has changed its stance of expressway standards only for the I-74 corridor.
This WVDOT map shows the path for the King Coal and Tolsia Highways.
There are I-74 Corridor signs just south of I-64 and on the Prichard Bypass