CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Fayette County delegate says it’s time for the West Virginia Parkways Authority to be eliminated.
“I don’t know that there’s anyone really auditing them. They’re not responsive to the taxpayers or to the citizens, so I think we should go back to the state (Division of Highways),” said Margaret Staggers (D-Fayette, 32), chair of the House Roads and Transportation Committee.
On Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” she criticized the Parkways Authority, which runs the West Virginia Turnpike, while talking about the report on future state road funding possibilities members of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission are in the process of finalizing.
The report recommends selling more than $1 billion in road bonds to pay for future road construction and maintenance in the Mountain State.
As proposed, those bonds would be paid off by keeping tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike for 30 years beyond 2019 when the current bonds are paid and eventually raising those tolls. The idea is that out of state drivers would largely pick up that tab.
But Staggers said the people who live in southern West Virginia have paid their share on the Turnpike. “The tolls are just getting a little old,” she said.
Staggers said the people she represents should not have to support all of West Virginia. “I would wonder why we couldn’t share this with the rest of the state,” she said. “I’m sure Morgantown would love to pay tolls on some of their roads and, maybe, we could toll MacCorkle Avenue in Charleston and pick out some places in the Eastern Panhandle.”
The full report from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways is scheduled to be turned over to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin later this month. That report will also include a recommendation for increases to fees through the Division of Motor Vehicles to generate more than $77 million a year.
“It’s a proposal,” said Staggers. “It’s a proposal by people who don’t need to get elected.”