Area Lacking Representation

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s new Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways is charged with developing strategies for maintaining West Virginia roads and bridges and building new ones long into the future. The panel, with 26 members, held its first meeting last week.

It appears not one of the members appointed by Tomblin is from the Northern Panhandle, or even close to our area.

On the commission are several legislators, state executive branch members, people with experience in construction and engineering, representatives of organizations ranging from the state Trucking Association to the Hospitality & Travel Association, and three “citizen members.”

Most of the panel members from organizations are based in Charleston. Commission members also hail from Berkeley, Cabell, Fayette, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Monongalia, Putnam and Pocahontas counties.

State Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette, who once served in the state Legislature from Wood County, is as close to a resident of this area that the commission has.

As we pointed out while Tomblin was in the process of determining membership for the commission, the Northern Panhandle is among West Virginia’s most important regions in terms of economic development. Much of the gas drilling boom is centered here. Interstate 70 is a primary east-west route for this entire region of the country. W.Va. 2 is the highway serving the entire Ohio Valley.

Our area is too important to the state as a whole to be left out of highway and bridge planning for the future.

Tomblin should reconsider his appointments to the commission and add at least one from the Northern Panhandle.