CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Road maintenance engineers from across the county hope to leave a conference here in West Virginia this week with ways to keep their highways in better repair.

The federal Transportation Subcommittee on Maintenance is holding it’s annual conference in Charleston. Mark McConnell, the Chief Engineer of the Mississippi Department of Highways and Chairman of the subcommittee, said not all states do things the same.

“I live in Mississippi. It’s flat. I come to West Virginia and there are mountains. That’s a completely different thing. So if you’re cleaning out ditches in West Virginia vs. Mississippi, it’s a different operation.”

However, the states have more in common than not. The chief concern of all state engineers according to McConnell, “Bridges and pavement are our main two things we’ve got to maintain. The economy of the United States is dependent on it.”

But what he said is most frustrating is the fact every state is working on a very limited budget.

“Our taxes are staying stagnant for federal and state funds and yet costs are going up. Something’s got to give,” stressed McConnell.

That’s why the subcommittee invited transportation experts and high tech vendors who are finding ways to do more with less. McConnell explained the work has to be done, you just have to find a way to do it.

“If you think of it like painting your house, you paint your house from falling apart, right? Well in pavement, we call it pavement preservation. You might do a chip seal. You might seal cracks that extends the life of that pavement to where it doesn’t fall apart,” said McConnell.

He said nationwide, fewer new roads are being built because more money has to go towards the upkeep of the roads states already have.

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  • Aaron

    The Senate sent the House bill back last night amended to finance the highway fund through the end of the year, forcing the lame duck Congress to address it in December after the election, which is another symptom of failed leadership from Washington. One of the proposed amendments that failed to make the bill was the reduction in gasoline tax mentioned above.

    What all of this tells me is that federal funding is going to be greatly reduced, thus the state of West Virginia and our current Legislative (non) leaders need to step forward and come up with a plan to build and maintain roads.

  • Independent View

    The real title of this conference should be: "Lobbying Congress for Billions in Highway Maintenance Money or How We Can Further Add to the Deficit and Further Burden the American taxpayer, due to our ineptitude."
    West Virginians already pay some of the highest gasoline taxes in the nation. We are a state small in population and can in no way build more and more highways and expect to maintain them.
    In the private sector, businesses cannot simply raise the cost of their product over and over to cover increased production costs or they would soon be priced out of the market. They develop a strategy to work smarter. Unfortunately, state bureaucracies' do not have any competition and just turn to taxpayers when the WANT more money, not necessarily when need it.

    • Aaron

      We have billions and billions of cubic feet of revenue all over northern West Virginia to pay for upkeep of current roads and construction of new roads.

  • Aaron

    I read an interesting article in which one version of a center proposal calls for the near elimination of the federal gas tax, reducing it from $.18 per gallon to 3.5 cents with funding delegated to the states augmented by block grants for federal highways.

    In my estimation that is how we should build and maintain our highways. While I agree interstates and federal highways like US 35, US 460, US 50 and other US highways should be maintained by federal dollars, state and county roads should be maintained by the individual states.

  • Aaron

    Many saw this problem coming years ago with the implementation of higher café standards yet are government officials failed to act year after year after year. Our current situation is the result. Mr. Kessler can tout his future fund but his leadership is proven by our current transportation crisis.