CHARLESTON, W.Va. – It just may be the worst pothole year in decades. State Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox said no section of road has been spared this winter.

“We’re about two and a half times underfunded with the money we should be putting into our resurfacing programs. The result, particularly when you have a hard, cold, harsh winter, is the amount of potholes you see statewide in the road system,” explained Mattox.

The DOT is focusing on repairing potholes along the state’s most traveled roads.

Some potholes are relatively small, a foot in diameter, a couple inches deep but there are others that can literally swallow a tire. Mattox said then there’s stretches of road, like 100-yards along Route 60 near St. Albans, that need extra work.

“We’re going to have to go in and do what’s called skip patching. Basically it’s just one big patch that’s put on the roadway because the road has deteriorated.”

Mattox said right now the DOH is fixing the holes in high-traffic areas.

“We wish we could go out and take care of all of them in a short time period but we can’t,” the secretary said. “We have to prioritize and we have to get the higher traveled roadways first and work our way down.”

The DOH is forced to do some temporary repairs because asphalt plants have yet to open.

“We use a material called cold mix. That is what they’re applying to the potholes right now. It’s basically a band-aid approach,” said Mattox.

The DOH is considering changing the level of asphalt it uses during their summer paving projects.

“I read a study recently where other states are getting up to 13-years of life by going to a thinner overlay but it’s about 40 percent less cost,” explained Mattox

He said the DOH will be looking at several different options to recover from the pitfalls of this winter.

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  • JimJim

    Less Taxes, + More Potholes = TeaParty

    You get what you pay for, you very seldom get what you don't pay for.

  • OldSkool

    Every year same thing. Just before the cold weather set in, maybe a couple months ago, I watched a road crew placing blacktop in holes filled with water. They can say what they want, it NEVER works! That stretch of road in Marion County is really bad now. Talk about wasteful spending. When will we learn?

    • pcm

      I can't remember the last time I've seen DRY potholes in the winter/spring.

      • Cooter

        Pcm, that is why throwing asphalt in the potholes is such a bad idea. There's water in the hole, water in the base material. Looks decent until next fall. Water, when frozen, expands. When it melts, it contracts. Not a lot, but enough to break the pavement above the water.

        If nothing is done to fix the problem, which is water under the pavement, in the base material, the problem is bound to keep happening year after year.

  • Cooter

    The reason the roads develop potholes is due to water in the base material, where it goes through a freeze-thaw cycle. The solution is not throwing more asphalt on the surface, the PROBLEM is that the base material is not properly draining off water. We're in a vicious cycle, pothole, throw patch in it, next year, same thing due to the same reason.

    It's expensive to fix it for good, but it keeps it from happening over and over.

    Well-designed roads (designs for most Interstates and Corridor roads) involve a perforated pipe running along the low edge of the pavement, inside a porous stone mix. The water follows gravity from the base material to the perforated pipe, where it is carried away.

  • Harpers Ferry

    The roads will look MUCH worse in a few weeks when Russian nukes start raining down on the US. Thanks Obama! Hopefully Putin thinks WV is a bunch of backwoods, inbred rednecks and thinks we're not worth wasting a nuke on. I'll take my chances with the radioactive fallout...I think.

    • sam

      I got an idea,,,,quit giving promotions that are not posted. Quit taking care of your buddies and give the people who deserve the raises their due. I can name a handful of personal appointments that have been given in the last two weeks. When I asked about money I was told we don't have it and then all these bs positons and promotions come out!!!!!

  • T Rex

    It's funny how our federal government can send billions to our enemies but we can't fix our roads and bridges in this country! They always tell us there is no money! Why?

  • Voter

    You folk requesting higher taxes are crazy. They get enough from us already. They need to make cuts so we can afford the things we really need like road construction and repair.

  • Aaron

    The solution is simple. Make the contractor responsible for the repair.

    • JimJim

      Right, then I won't bid on the job.

  • Hillbilly

    It just seems to me that Blacktop doesn't last as long as it used to. Maybe they are laying it thinner to save costs? They use some recipe they call "Super Pave" but I do not see anything Super about it. Maybe if they used something less porous water would not seep down into it and freeze. Concrete Interstate highways have lasted for over 40 years, and then only need expansion joint work.

    • pcm

      A less porous mix will result in a finer material and slick driving surfaces.

      Concrete surfaces do last a long time but more expensive to install and more expensive and time consuming to repair.

      • Aaron

        Life cycle cost analysis are proving that while the cost of concrete is more expensive to install, the extended life and less maintenance leads to an overall cheaper cost than asphalt.

        I was in New York 3 years ago and as their asphalt falls apart, they are replacing it with concrete roads.

        Additionally, asphalt is only going to get more expensive as the mix is petroleum based thus the comparison is going to favor concrete more and more.

        If we are going to plan for our future, it is time we start planning for years for now by replacing deteriorating asphalt roads. Prudent investments now will lead to better roads in the future.

    • Aaron

      The formula has been changed to allow regrind be used in the raw material. I had a state inspector tell me it killed the mix.

  • ShinnstonGuy

    No offense to Mr. Mattox, but blaming this winter is the metaphorical "lipstick on a pig." The roads have been a disaster for at least ten years, if not more. A bundle is spent on the interstates because either the workers or the mix is subpar. After five years (sometimes less) the road is horrible. Heck, within a month after paving I-79 you can feel vibrations. Compare this to I-68 in Garrett County (Md) which gets a much rougher winter yet the road is only paved every 20 years. In addition to poor workmanship and materials, our vehicles weight a lot more now that every has moved up to large trucks and sport utility vehicles, both of which way twice as much as cars. So yes, the winter was harsh, but let's not try to fool anyone. The legislature got off easy due to the water leak and every one in the state will pay at the mechanic's to get new tires, rims, etc.

    • pcm

      I-79 vibrations. Poor workmanship on the part of contractors, one major contractor in WV in particular. Heck they won a smoothness award and bonus on one stretch of 79 paved last year!

  • Tony

    On several occasions this winter I witnessed snow plow drivers with their heavy blade down on the roadway surface with little to no snow at all on the road. Those blades are the direct source of our road problems. They shouldn't be scraping pavement, they should be scraping snow.

  • Bob The Civil Engineer

    How about someone weighing cars - obviously they must be damaging the roads because trucks never get weighed.?

    The legislature makes the assumption that trucks never run overweight in WV they need only have the minimal number of axels and wheels touching the road despite their overflowing beds.

  • Larry

    It also makes it tough to get them all patched when the workers sit in the trucks until 9, take a 2 hour lunch at 11, then head in around 3 for a full 10 hour workday.

    • Fed up

      I could send you photos of this occurring in our county. Daily scenario is: leave the shop after BS and coffee around 8:30AM, arrive at local road job site at 9:00AM, BS some more, start job at 9:45AM, stop at 11:45AM for lunch, back to work at 1:PM, stop at 2:30PM and head back to shop. I watched this scenario play out for three weeks last summer. It's ridiculous. Who in the hell is in charge of DOH in our county. As for Mattox, our roads have been deteriorating for longer than a winter. Start taking away all of the state and county vehicles driven home as a perk every day at taxpayer's expense. The cost for this program is unbelievable when you consider gas, oil and maintenance. This perk should have been ended years ago. DOH one of the most mismanaged department in our state. There are many more. Tomblin and his appointees are good ole boys way out of their league. But the ineptness also crosses party lines. Both sides are corrupt and inefficient. We need real change now.

      • pcm

        Send the pictures to the governors office.

        What county are you in Fed Up? I can look up the number for you.

        Used to be everyone at district level could park at home, then the took that away and said park at a government property (Fire departments, national guard, state police, etc.) then changed that again to park at nearest DOH facility.

        Of course this didn't apply to the upper level management (Supervisors & engineers) people.

  • Greasy J

    WV has the worst infrastructure the US. That's one of the reason businesses don't want to locate here It is sad our Legislature can't address this. It never does.

    • ViennaGuy

      Greasy, if you think it's bad here, you should go visit Detroit. ...

  • Aaron

    It's sad that our Legislature couldn't address infrastructure, particularly given that they've accomplished so little.

    A simple 2%, 2 year increase in our sales tax would have covered budget shortfalls AND provided finding for patching poorly paved roads .

    • Retired Teacher

      Or maybe Jim Justice could pay his full tax bill---and they could fill a few more potholes.

    • ViennaGuy

      We'd be better off raising the gas tax. By law, the gas tax goes directly to roads. A sales tax would go into general revenue with no guarantee that it would be spent on roads.

      I don't like higher taxes any more than anyone else, but it's time to raise the gas tax - that, or raise registration fees(or maybe both). The Legislature didn't have the political guts to do it this session. I'd much rather see a gas tax increase tax than something like the government GPS "tax-per-mile-driven" scheme being implemented in Oregon.

      I also believe that the state needs to start turning responsibility for some roads over to counties and municipalities. Despite being ranked 37th in population among the 50 states, West Virginia has the 6th-largest highway system in the nation - 36,000 miles - with 92% of those miles maintained by the state. Hand over some of those more rural and lesser-used roads to counties & municipalities, and the DOH will have more money to maintain the major parts of the transportation infrastructure. I doubt that the Legislature will have the political guts to do that, either.

      • Retired Teacher

        If they handed many lesser traveled roads over to counties, how would the counties afford to maintain the roads?

        Maybe they could make every road a toll road and have nonviolent regional jail inmates stand in something that resembles school bus sheds and manually raise and lower a toll gate around the clock.

        • TracyO

          WV is one of only 4 states that still maintain county roads at the state level. All other state only maintain state and federal highways. All other roads are maintained by the counties and cities they are a part of.

        • ViennaGuy

          - If they handed many lesser traveled roads over to counties, how would the counties afford to maintain the roads? -

          That would be for the counties to decide.

          • P

            Counties would raise taxes. That is what they do.

    • Jon

      I couldn't agree more! Everyone yells for lower taxes but these people do not understand taxes are what fix things like roads!

      • Aaron

        Understand I believe the long term solution is spending cuts but with the mandated cuts already a part of the equation, I felt like a temporary tax was preferable to raiding the rainy day fund.

        • Retired Teacher

          Could you kindly list what cuts the state could make. Many state employees qualify for SNAP benefits. I would like to see the heads of various state agencies take a pay cut, and upper level bureaucracy trimmed by 40-60%. Even with these cuts, I'm of the belief that it wouldn't be enough to even pave the roads.

          And to the poster that compared I68 in Garrett County--isn't that stretch of road concrete?

          • Aaron

            Maryland has a lower weight limit on which roads? Certainly not interstates as the federal weight limit is 40 tons. This applies to all federally designated highways.

          • pcm

            Well said.

            Maryland also has a lower weight limit on their roads than WV and their highway patrolmen are out in swarms between WV lane and Cumberland.

            Marylands roads are NOT better than WV. I've been over plenty of back roads and they have just as many problems as we do.

  • T.R. Scragg

    Why not buy a machine that take up old pavement and mixes it with a slurry and resurfaces the roadway. I know these machine are available, I seen one on TV in California.

    • Aaron

      Some states use a machine that mixes Portland cement that mixes with the gravel from rock covered roads and it breaks down in 3-4 years. Ohio uses it but WV doesn't.

    • pcm

      According to Wiki, "Slurry" is a "...thin sloppy mud or cement"

      I'll allow you to recant your idiotic statement now.