Finding Solution For W.Va. Roads

Nearly a month ago, Marshall County school Superintendent Jeffrey Crook put his finger on what simply must be a top priority for state government during the new year.

“Somebody’s going to get killed, and we need to fix the roads before that,” Crook said during an early-December public meeting in Moundsville.

Precisely. Crook’s specific concern is the safety of roads on which school buses must travel. In Marshall County, the situation has deteriorated to the point that “we may have to consider closing some of our (bus) routes,” he noted.

Keeping our children on school buses safe is at the top of many West Virginians’ minds, of course. But the condition of roads in general has slipped — pun intended — badly during the past several years.

Blame weather conditions for some of that. But the plain fact is that state government does not have enough money to keep roads and bridges in acceptable — much less good — condition.

What about the “Roads to Prosperity” program? Many Mountain State residents may have expected the $1.6 billion in bond sales we approved in October 2017 would have taken care of our roads.

Unfortunately not. Roads to Prosperity, which may provide for more than $2 billion in road and bridge work after federal funds are leveraged, is targeted heavily toward construction of new highways and major projects on existing ones. Tens of thousands of miles of neglected secondary roads would not benefit.

Revenue for the DOH is lagging badly behind expectations. The agency had been budgeted to collect $629.2 million by the end of November. When figures for the first five months of the fiscal year were released, they showed revenue was $95.1 million below projections.

Something decisive needs to be done about the situation. Crook is right: It is only a matter of time before West Virginia’s deplorable highways are responsible for killing someone.

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