CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The cost for repairs on flood damaged roads for the West Virginia Division of Highways will be substantial. Repair estimates continue to increase as the scope of the damage is revealed.
“The northern panhandle is one of the areas that is prone to slips and slides anyway,” said DOH Communications Specialist Carrie Jones. “So, on top of the existing ones, this flood event has created dozens more.”
Across a dozen northern and north central West Virginia counties the damage estimates top $12.8 million. Some of the worst damages are in Marshall, Ohio, and Wetzel counties.
A slide along Grapevine Ridge in Marshall County is 330 feet and the estimated repair cost is $500,000. It’s one of 15 slides identified in the county ranging from 40 to more than 300 feet. There are nine slides in Ohio County, the largest a 200 foot slide on on McGraw’s Run. Wetzel County motorists are hampered by 26 slides and slips, many of them on main arteries like U.S. Route 250 and on State Routes 20 and 7. The worst for Wetzel County is a 250 foot slip on Piney Fork.
“It really adds up and those are things that significantly impact the roadway,” she said. “But people don’t understand we realize the road is slipping or down to one lane and these things take time because we don’t have an unlimited pool of money. ”
Much of the cost for repairs will be covered by FEMA or the Federal Highway Administration for damages on roads like U.S. Route 250. However, in some cases the red tape slows the process of funding therefore the DOH has to front the bill on an already strapped budget.
“We wish that we could get the check up front, but when you have something on a significant route like US Route 250, we have to go ahead and do that as quickly as we can with the funding we have available,” Jones said. “Then wait for the reimbursement.”
Unlike the flood of 2016, the priority for repairs is changed. This year’s flood left nobody trapped or roads closed for a long period of time. The state will prioritize repairs based on which roads have the most traffic or the most significant level of damage for repairs first.