CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways plans to put its final report on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s desk this week. But its job isn’t done.
Jan Vineyard, with the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association and a member of the BRC, said the Division of Highways is in the process of creating a video that the Commission can take out into the community to explain the state’s road needs.
“I don’t think people realize how much highway West Virginia is in charge of keeping up. I don’t think that they realize our only funding for highways comes from the federal gas tax, the state gas tax and some DMV fees,” stressed Vineyard.
The West Virginia Department of Transportation handles upkeep and new construction on 35,000 miles of roads. The BRC report made it clear, the state must come up with new funding in order to keep the roads in good repair and the economy moving.
The BRC proposed three ways to accomplish that. The DOH must find ways to slash its budget without cutting funding for road programs, the agency must be innovative with their cash such as public/private partnerships and a new source of revenue has to come from somewhere.
“Our highways take us to ballgames, education, church. They take us to the emergency room. I don’t think people realize the impact of us having a good highway system,” explained Vineyard.
The commission will use the video to get the word out to the public. Vineyard said it’s just three minutes long but it will get straight to the point and visually show state residents the dilemma. The video should be complete in the next week or so.
The BRC, which conducted nine public meetings around the state earlier this year to help them complete their highway report, will head out again into the community with the video to get the public on board.
“Anytime I need to move an issue forward, it’s always done by grassroots,” said Vineyard. “It’s by getting people educated and aware of what’s going on and sitting down one on one.”
The DOH is also working on an even shorter version of the three-minute video that will just give just the main talking points they want to get across to the public.