CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After a 58-page report released Wednesday by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways painted a bleak picture of West Virginia roadways, Joe Denault, who was on the commission weighed in on the implications.
The report concluded that one-third of the state’s highway system is considered to be in poor condition. Denault said that the report reflects a hard winter in West Virginia wreaking havoc on the roads.
“It’s extremely timely that this report is coming out now after the kind of winter we’ve had and the kind of deterioration of the road system people have seen,” Denault said. “WVBT has been talking for a long time about the crisis that was coming to our transportation system if we didn’t adequately fund it.”
The report concluded that the rough roads of the state cost the average motorist over $300 a year in car repairs. Denault said there was “a lot of meat and substance to the report” and problems have been identified. He thought West Virginia’s roads have gotten worse while other states have gone in the opposite direction.
“I don’t think there’s any question that West Virginia’s transportation system is rapidly spiraling downward. And at the same time, other states around us have been taking initiatives to improve their systems.”
Denault said that if the status quo keeps up, West Virginia will have a hard time competing with its neighbors.
“It’s putting us in a competitive disadvantage with our surrounding states,” he said. “To get tourism, to get industry, to keep our kids here at home working rather than going off to another state to find a living that they can’t have in West Virginia.”
He said that the report shows what needs to be done, and now it’s up to legislatures to come up with a plan. Current streams of cash flow are currently unable to keep up with the repairs that are needed.
The Blue Ribbon report makes several recommendations, which included increasing the motor vehicle sales tax from its current 5 percent to 6 percent.