Use Some Bond Funds on Repairs

Some area residents have grown so frustrated with badly damaged, sometimes dangerous, roads that they are taking matters into their own hands, as we reported last week. One resident of Timber Haven Road in Ohio County has used bricks in an attempt to make one deep pothole less jarring for vehicles.

As Division of Highways Acting District 6 Engineer Dave Brabham told our reporter, damage from storms is a major part of the problem. One February storm alone caused $22 million in damage to Marshall County roads and another $5.2 million in Ohio County, he said.

Some help in repairing weather-related damage may come from the federal government. Unfortunately, most of the potholed roads and hillside slips will have to be handled with state funds, however. That will mean “it will take us the next year and a half to do all the repairs after the storms,” Brabham estimated.

Last fall, Mountain State voters approved issuance of $1.6 billion in bonds to finance highway and bridge repairs and improvements. In May, Gov. Jim Justice said $800 million in bonds already had been sold.

One goal of the project is to take some pressure off the regular DOH budget. Instead of spending money from it on major projects such as bridge replacement on Interstate 70 in Ohio County, funds can be conserved for normal maintenance work such as that needed badly in many areas of the state.

Much of the bond money is earmarked for specific projects, including some major upgrades to W.Va. 2 in our area.

But the need for repairs to existing highways is an emergency. A year and a half for some repairs is, quite simply, too long.

State officials should use some of the bond money to address the problem. Big projects and new highways and bridges are appealing to politicians because they garner lots of positive publicity from them.

They need to remember, however, that every time a motorist destroys a tire in a pothole and every time another has to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting another vehicle in a spot where a slip has narrowed the pavement, West Virginians think about the politicians, too.

What some of them are thinking is unprintable.

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