Vote for Bond Issue to Improve Route 2 in Our Area
After multiple years of cuts to the Road Fund, West Virginia’s legislators have finally done something to bring in money to repair our current roads and fund new road projects. Supplemental to this new revenue stream, West Virginians will be asked to vote in October to allow the state to invest this money and create more money by selling bonds.
If the road bond issue passes, West Virginia will be able to turn $130 million into upwards of $3 billion to be used for road projects. The best part of the road bond: it will not raise further taxes!
The announcement of the road bond has created a unique opportunity for West Virginians to capitalize on already increasing vehicular fees and sales taxes. Voting for the bond issue will leverage funding to complete major road improvements and projects that are desperately needed in the state. Nearly 500 road projects of various sizes will be able to move forward if this road bond issue is passed.
At the beginning of the year, Governor Justice announced his $3 billion “Transportation Investment Program.” An estimated $156.5 million for planned road investments along West Virginia Route 2 was included in this two-phase plan.
A total of four projects for Route 2 improvements were on this list. In the first phase, the Governor lists widening W.Va. 2 by reconstructing the five-lane highway stretch in Wood County. In phase two, the project list includes widening Route 2 to four lanes from Proctor to Kent in Wetzel County and from Kent to Franklin through Marshall County. The plans also include re-routing and widening the path that W.Va. Route 2 takes through New Cumberland in Hancock County. Discussions on the New Cumberland rerouting have already begun.
The passing of this road bond means real potential for completing these portions of Route 2 and moving closer to our goal of creating a four-lane highway in West Virginia’s Ohio Valley.
A mere 100 miles of road remain to finish the Route 2 four-lane expansion from Parkersburg to Chester. Nearly 36,000 jobs and $2.6 billion came to West Virginia in 2015 due to natural gas production. With multiple natural gas projects being planned for the Ohio Valley region, we must complete this expansion so that we can be prepared for these opportunities for growth. A four-lane Route 2 will allow us to bring even more jobs and economic development and continue to enhance the attractiveness of our region for these projects.
It has been stressed that one of the most necessary investments for West Virginia is upgrading our infrastructure. Our roads have been long neglected and they create a challenge to not only those that live in this state but to those that would like to locate their businesses here. We could have the best locations for manufacturing and industry, but if a company is unable to get its product to market, we will be quickly overlooked. This is a cycle that we have witnessed over and over, and we must put a stop to it.
At a time when West Virginia needs help with keeping and gaining population and talent, completing Route 2 could not be more pertinent. This roadway runs through a region of the state that is prime for development and growth. The inefficiency and limitation of not expanding Route 2 to four lanes for its entirety will only further hamper our potential. We simply cannot allow this to happen.
This road bond issue allows for investing existing tax dollars in order to improve West Virginia’s infrastructure and prosperity. There will be no new fees or taxes associated with the road bond. There will only be opportunity. The opportunity to complete a four-lane highway in the Ohio Valley, enable economic development and help our state grow. For these reasons, it is clear, we must pass the road bond in October and we must complete the four-lane expansion of Route 2. These components are imperative to our future.
Charles Clements is the executive director of the Route 2 and I-68 Authority and serves as a senator for West Virginia’s Second District. Clements served in the W.Va. House of Delegates from 1996-2000 and was appointed to Governor Tomblin’s Blue Ribbon Commission in 2012.