Fund N. Panhandle Highways, Bridges

Last weekend we suggested Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin should correct an oversight in his appointments to a blue-ribbon commission to study how West Virginia highways and bridges are to be maintained in the future. Tomblin promptly noted his failure to appoint Northern Panhandle representatives to the panel and rectified the situation by placing Don Rigby of Wheeling and Charles Clements of New Martinsville on the group.

Would that addressing the task facing the commission could be that easy.

West Virginia is hundreds of millions of dollars a year short of what is needed to fund the state Division of Highways adequately. It is a problem the effects of which already have been seen throughout the state.

Obviously, part of the panel’s job is to identify new sources of revenue. Another duty may be to establish long-term priorities for highway and bridge construction and maintenance.

That is precisely why we felt Northern Panhandle representation was important. In deciding how to spend scarce transportation dollars, state officials should remember not only that the Ohio Valley is home to a substantial percentage of the state’s population, but also that it holds the promise of being an economic development engine that can benefit all Mountain State residents.

In other words, our sometimes-neglected region of the state should be a high priority for highway and bridge spending in the future.