Marshall County Roads a Wreck

Highways in many West Virginia counties are in need of attention that has been lacking for several years. But a few hours’ drive over Marshall County roads makes it clear they are in a different category.

Two of our journalists took the tour last week, describing what they saw in a story and pictures published Sunday. Some of the roads they traveled are dangerous. A few appear to lack only a couple of heavy rainstorms before they become impassable.

What can be done about the situation? There are two possibilities.

One is state Division of Highways action, through the $240 million emergency repair initiative Gov. Jim Justice envisions.

County DOH supervisors have submitted priority lists for road repairs. At some point, state officials will look over the projects and decide which ones are to be funded. Even $240 million — assuming Justice can scrape up that much — is not enough to do more than scratch the surface of the statewide list. Priorities will have to be set.

Politics will play a part in that process. Voters in every region of the state will have to be placated. Legislators will lobby with Justice for their own counties and districts.

But need — factors such as how heavily roads in need of repair are traveled and whether they are school bus routes — should be the primary consideration in deciding how to use the $240 million.

Marshall County ranks high by that criterion.

Another potential factor is federal disaster aid. Some of the damaged roads in Marshall County may qualify for it.

Any application for such assistance ought to be approved in Washington. If they are tempted to reject aid to Marshal County, federal officials ought to take the same tour we used for our Sunday story. Then, they ought to expedite any help they can give.

Marshall Countians, like fellow West Virginians, are not given to asking for more than their fair share of state and federal funding. The condition of some roads in the county makes it clear the county needs help — badly.

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