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.
“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.”