Proceed With The I-70 Project
Some sections of Interstate 70 in Ohio County, including bridges, have been in need of repair or complete rehabilitation for years. The work simply has to be done for the safety of the traveling public.
Plans to undertake the project have run into a deep pothole, however.
It was included on a list of road and bridge repair and construction to be funded in part by the $1.6 billion bond issue approved by West Virginia voters. At the time, the cost of the I-70 segment was estimated at $172.5 million. Later, the estimate went up to $201 million.
State Division of Highways officials opened bids for the project last week. The lowest was for $275 million. Some exceeded $300 million.
DOH officials are concerned, needless to say, and not just about I-70. They also worry bids on other “Roads to Prosperity” bond issue initiatives may be in excess of previous estimates. That could force a change in the master plan.
State officials may have no choice but to do that. If so, they should be asking why cost estimates of only about a year ago were off by so much. Is this another example of state government unable to get things right?
I-70 work needs to stay on track. Perhaps some specifications can be altered to lessen the cost without cutting out essential components of the project.
It simply cannot be shelved, however. I-70 is a critical transportation artery, not just for this region but for much of the nation. The highway through West Virginia needs to be safe, whatever the price tag.