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.