CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A state senator from Monongalia County said it will take a combination of “creative financing” and “courage from lawmakers” to seriously address West Virginia’s road construction and maintenance needs in the years ahead.

File photo

Senate Transportation Chair Bob Beach (D-Monongalia, 13)

“We’re needing $400 million to catch up, $800 million to get ahead of the curve and $1.2 billion to get all those new projects that are currently on the books off the books,” said Sen. Bob Beach (D-Monongalia, 13), chairman of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Little to address West Virginia’s roads in the long term came out of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session.

Beach said he was not surprised by the lack of action.  “It’s an election year and the reality is there’s not going to be a legislator out there that will put his name on the voting board, voting for a fee or a tax increase,” he said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“Any real discussion is going to regard revenues, there’s no question.  If you’re paying bills, you have to have revenue coming into your home and that’s the same way with the state.  There have to be some revenue measures in place.”

The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission has been working for more than a year now to identify long-term road funding sources.

One of the main proposals from that group is to continue tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike 30 years beyond 2019, when the tolls are scheduled to be removed, to fund bonds for road construction projects across the state.  But there has already been opposition to that idea.

Another proposal would raise fees through the state Division of Motor Vehicles to generate more than $77 million a year.

In the short term, crews with the Division of Highways are working to address massive pothole problems throughout the Mountain State.  Officials with the state Department of Transportation have shifted around funds, about $12 million, to cover the costs of both quick and more permanent repairs.

Brent Walker, DOT spokesperson, has called the potholes in West Virginia, this year, the “worst in decades.”

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Comments

  • Wowbagger

    The generally accepted ratio of truck to automobile highway damage is 10,000 to one. That is, a truck causes about 10,000 times the the highway damage of a passenger car. This is for all trucks, not just those servicing shale wells.

    Assuming this is true and highway maintenance is essentially a use tax collected to build and maintain roads, who do you think should bear the greatest burden to maintain highways?

  • Gary

    We pay the 9th or 10th highest gas tax now. This money should be spent on the roads. What do they use the gas tax for? These do nothing clowns ought to voted out they really don't care about WV only getting re-elected. If they did they would make the hard decisions that need to be made and not be raiding the rainy day fund.

  • TB

    And what did Bob Beach introduce this year to address the road conditions? He states the unwillingness of the politicians to address the issue in an election year - he and his cohorts must really have high opinions of the positions they hold and of themselves. Maybe he is more interested in gaining from the government teat than actually doing something. Get out of the way!

  • Snowman

    Elect me! Just tell people the truth so what if you are not re-elected tell us the truth we are going to have to pay more taxes for road funding. Quit worrying about being a "career" politician. You do what is right by the people that elects you your career will take care of its self. Everyone is afraid of hurting someones feelings. Just tell your voters the truth. One other thing demand Paul Mattox take a cut in pay, $120,000 a year is a bit much when the rest of DOH people that do the actual work make between $25,000-$45,000. Your fat cats that are in high up positions within the DOH is why there is no money examine their pay too. In a district within this state 4 people alone in management alone make over $300,000 a year. If you don't believe me e-mail me and I will show you.

    • vickey

      Its about having the money for our roads not to mention they hire temps workers for the state road at min wages they stay for just a little while and leave. this winter they didn't have enough workers to drive the trucks. Hire people from the welfare program and train them. The state will save money reducing welfare and can use it for the salaries. If your not going to pay employees that actually do the work enough to live on then pay cuts should be handed out.

  • Woodchuck

    Thousands of over sized and loaded truck are on our roads due to the gas drilling industry every day. What are you doing with all the money they spend on permits? Are you turning your heads because they are finacing your re-election campaigns? So now let's put the cost of road repair on our hard working citizens. Never vote for an encumbent! My moto for life.

    • Aaron

      What money? A permit cost $600 which isn't enough to cover inspectors least yet cover torn up roads. I believe a portion of the severance taxes should be dedicated to the roads in the county from which drilling takes place.

      • vickey

        Aron I some what agree Go county by county.

  • Guardian

    Then call the entire legislature into account election day. Vote every single incumbent out of office, regardless of party.

    This senator ADMITS they are worried about being re-elected and won't vote for what needs to be done - raise revenues earmarked for road maintenance only.

    We didn't send any of these folks to Charleston to be re-elected. We sent them to do a job. And they failed on this issue, yet robbed the rainy day fund to give teachers and county elected officials a raise. That is blatent pandering to special interests.

  • David

    Raise the gas tax 10 cents...

    Put a 3 cent tax on food

    Raise gas vehicle registration $5

    Raise hybrid cars $20

    Raise all electric cars $100

    It's pretty simple really

    Then take the toll off the turnpike and stop screwing the people in those county's

    • vickey

      wait if they raise all these taxes they will they give themselves a raise. That is what happens every time!!!!

  • ViennaGuy

    I think that what we're going to see, at a minimum, is a combination of an increased gas tax and an increased registration fee. Neither have been raised in years. The hybrid-car and electric-car crowds will probably raise a stink over the increase in the registration fee, arguing that they don't use as much gas so they shouldn't have to pay more; however, they do use the roads like everyone else.

    There may also be an increase in driver's license fees.

    I also have a feeling that tolls on the Turnpike will also be kept. I do think that some sort of break on tolls should be given to the people who live in the counties through which the Turnpike travels, though.

    I will say this, though: a pay-by-the-mile GPS-tracking thing, like is being worked on in Oregon, will never fly with the public and shouldn't even be considered by the Legislature.

    • I'm honest at least

      Years ago when the state closed several DMV offices they pretty much raised the fees for a lot of people. Half a day plus missed work....gas....lunch after spending half of the day.

    • Aaron

      What I don't get is how any legislature can in good conscience ask that region to continue to suffer economically for roads in other parts of the state. It's atrocious.

  • Rick55

    Aaron (I assume its the same Aaron) you are not only a true blue (and gold) fan, but also show a mean practical sense in real life. +1!

    • Aaron

      Yes, its the same Aaron. Occasionally one of the rubes on the basketball site will get by with using my name to post but I call him out when that happens. He gets MAD when I prove him wrong, as normally happens when he post.

  • calvin

    I'm sorry, but our legislators have done nothing for us in 50 plus years of democratic rule. Every where you turn is corruption or mismanagement of state funds. Where is the revenue from oil and gas exploration? Tax breaks for all the company's here sucking billions in profits out the ground. No money for infrastructure. Good job senate and house. What a bunch of losers.

  • bulldog95

    What did they think was going to happen when everyone was pushing for better gas standards. Of course the money coming into the coffers was going to decline and this is what we are left with. So go ahead and keep pushing for plug in cars which means even less money from the gas tax.

    Coming soon, a tax on the amount of miles you drive. Its the only way.

  • mook

    If they would quite doing half a--- repairs the first time out. There would be more money for repairs. But when you put a shovel of asphalt in a hole full of water and mud, then use the truck tires for a roller=== half a-- patch job. Or how about paying them minium wage=== half a--- repair job! Or contract it out and a BIG HALF A--- repair job!!

    • vickey

      I agree big waste of money but that's how its done where I live. I have lived where im at for 14 years and our road has never been fixed only patch. I recently bought a new car I will bill for a flat or damage to my car caused by pot holes this year. In the past I have let it go.

    • Brian

      Agree mook! There is great inconsistency in priorities of repairs, quality of workers and quality of repairs. Route 2 between Point Pleasant and Huntington had the same bridge rebuilt by a campground 3 times within 5 years because it was improperly designed and built. Yet I saw a DOH crew out patching a slide at 8 pm last night in another county. Clearly the DOH at the county level varies more than the weather.

      • Davey

        The bridge on Rt 2 was designed by a consultant and built by a contractor. It had to be torn out and rebuilt only once (once too many) due to an inadequate design. This is the result you sometimes get when you outsource highway work.

        We need to quit expanding the road system and take better care of what we already have. We should be doing 100% maintenance with no further expansion. Politicians will build a 4-lane right to your front door if you promise to vote for them. That's only one more 4-lane road to maintain down the road along with everything else.

        No new roads, no road widening, no upgrades, no turning lanes, nothing but maintenance! This is the only way to dig ourselves out of this hole.

        • Brian

          I'm almost certain it was 3 times to replace the Route 2 bridge and though it was outsourced x times, it was also approved wrongly x times not only by Mason Co DOH but DOH HQ and WVPurchasing division. Outsourced labor only follows specs of incompetent state project supervisors and those above them.

          • Davey

            A consultant's design is not approved by Mason County DOH. They only maintain it once it is open to traffic. A consultant is contracted to design a particular project to meet certain standards and specifications, with their professional engineer stamping and sealing the design plans as the "engineer of record" that these standards and specs have been met. If there were to be a design flaw, the consultant and/or their insurance is liable for making the necessary corrections. Construction specifications had nothing to do with the issues concerning this particular project. The issue was with the design calculations. As a side note, you can have the best construction specifications possible written down on paper, but they do not mean a thing if they are not followed properly. Unfortunately, sometimes politics can get in the way of proper enforcement of written specifications once a job has been outsourced. In that case it is out of the hands of the folks at DOH, who for the most part care very deeply about the condition of the state's highway system and want to see taxpayer money spent properly and efficiently.

  • Aaron

    "One of the main proposals from that group is to continue tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike 30 years beyond 2019, when the tolls are scheduled to be removed, to fund bonds for road construction projects across the state. But there has already been opposition to that idea."

    Of course there is opposition. To stagnate the economy of 3-4 counties with less than 10% of the population along 100 miles of roadway for 30 MORE YEARS for the sole purpose of creating funding for what amounts to 1 year of infrastructure is sheer lunacy. How could anyone with even a smidgen of intelligence think that is a good idea?

    A better solution is to share the burden equally by either reestablishing the food tax or by increasing the sales tax. As each penny raises, ~$60-80 million per year, $.05 for 5 years required by law to be spent on infrastructure would be more than enough meet our needs and it would be shared by the citizens equally.

    • The bookman

      Each percentage increment of consumer sales tax yields ca. $160M. Watering down a 2% increase to $300M due to suppression of sales seems like a lot of money, until you start looking at the needs in the state, the Budget being the biggest. Prezioso stated that the hole this session could have been as large as $200M. The food tax is such a despicable tax. Plus it is one we have already discarded. I, like you don't like the bond idea, as it requires the tolls to remain on I 77 south of Charleston. It is also not a funding stream, but one time monies meant to get us back to square. In lieu of finding several hundred million dollars of waste, fraud and abuse, or savings from inefficiencies in program execution, we may have to consider that the Captain was right. Next year may well be the year of the tax!

  • Roads

    If vehicles were taxed fairly then revenues would be up. An antique vehicle from the '60's has almost no tax value. But they sell for over $20,000. What is wrong with this picture??? Tax them correctly. There is a pot of gold setting out there ready to be found.

    • ViennaGuy

      Roads, you make a good point. Your point also illustrates why property taxes are a fundamentally flawed way of generating revenue for governmental bodies.

    • hmmmmm

      sounds like someone is jealous of their neighbor's antique car