Marshall County Road, Bridge Updates Would Come if Bond is Passed

Photo by Drew Parker Gus Suwaid, West Virginia Division of Highways District 6 engineer, addresses Marshall County commissioners Tuesday.

Marshall County residents can expect to see more than $56 million in improvements to roads and bridges in the county if Mountain State voters approve a proposed bond issue next month.

During their meeting Tuesday, county commissioners heard from West Virginia Division of Highways District 6 Engineer Gus Suwaid on the potential impact to Marshall County of a proposed $1.6 billion statewide road bond measure that will go before voters in the form of a constitutional amendment during a special election on Oct. 7. Early voting in the election begins Sept. 22.

Suwaid said the bond issue wouldn’t result in increased taxes for residents, as lawmakers already have increased the gasoline tax, sales tax on vehicles and Division of Motor Vehicle fees, which took effect July 1. Additional revenue from those measures would repay the bonds.

An additional bill signed by Justice in July authorizes the state Parkways Authority to issue road construction bonds and set new tolls for the West Virginia Turnpike.

Suwaid said a project to replace and rehabilitate bridges on Interstate 70 in Ohio County — estimated at $172.5 million, according to a list on the West Virginia Department of Transportation website — is the largest item on the list of projects to be completed if West Virginians approve the bond issue next month.

Suwaid has done similar presentations in Wetzel and Ohio County.

“The point of the presentations is to educate and stress the need to vote. People can vote how they want to but we want to share the benefits of the referendum … ,” Suwaid said. “If the general obligation bond passes, that translates into thousands of jobs. The direct benefit is the construction projects and the indirect benefit are factories and plants supplying material for the construction projects and an induced benefit for the community supporting those construction workers in terms of food, lodging and fuel.”

According to the list of planned projects, if the bond amendment passes, Marshall County would see road paving in Mozart for $410,000; bridge replacement and widening near the McDonald Upper Plaza for $16.2 million; drainage work on W.Va. 2 for $115,500 each; $30 million for widening of W.Va. 2 to four lanes near Kent and Proctor; improvements to W.Va. 88 for $150,000; $1.1 million for replacement of the Kausooth Bridge on Fish Creek; $500,000 for slide repair throughout the county; improving the turning radius on U.S. 250 for $850,000; and $1.35 million for pavement rehabilitation.

Commission President Bob Miller said commissioners have approved a resolution in support of the bond issue.

“The region definitely needs this bond issue to upgrade our roads,” Miller said. “All of our infrastructure — especially our bridges — is in terrible shape. So many people say, ‘Well, they’re not going to fix this thing next to my house so I’m not voting for it,’ but we’re never going to get to fixing that if we don’t do this. We’ve got to get the big things that can kill people out of the way first and do other projects on an as-needed basis.”

Commissioners also approved a request from Sheriff Kevin Cecil for two court security personnel to be hired for the county Courthouse.