CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Nearly 60 miles of interstate reconstruction will start in West Virginia next week.


Transportation Secretary Tom Smith

Crews with the state Department of Transportation will begin patching potholes in addition to the 13 projects across the state.

“We’re going to be starting earlier than other years because of having these contracts available to us,” said State Transportation Secretary Tom Smith on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

The projects are made possible by road bonds, approved by West Virginia voters last year. Smith said the bonds, that will fund $1.6 million worth of road construction projects, will go on sale next month.

The first major project will be along Interstate 64 near Milton.

Smith said the road bond money will allow them to complete parts of highways instead of just filling pot holes.

“Over the last decade, we’ve only done 7 miles of complete reconstruction. We’ve always done this mill and fill stuff. That works to a point, but when pavements are really old, it’s sort of like putting a band aid on a bad cut. There’s a point where you need to do more than just the mill and fill,” he said.

The bonds will leave a huge dent in need for construction projects in West Virginia, Smith said.

The three major projects, in addition to the Milton I-64 reconstruction, include work on bridges in Wheeling that’s expected to cost around $200 million, work on the Nitro-St. Albans bridge on I-64 that’s about $170 million and a widening of the West Virginia Turnpike in Beckley that’s valued at $90 million.

Smith said plans are in place for the Beckley project.

Projects that involve the most traffic congestion will be along I-79 near Morgantown, I-64 in Milton and I-77 near Bluefield.

“What we want to do is have motorists understand that you need to slow down in work zone areas,” Smith said.

Governor Jim Justice has said the result of the road bond passage will lead to thousands of jobs. Smith agreed.

“We like the fact that he said we need to rebuild our roads, but it’s really about kick starting the economy,” Smith said. “I think this job growth is something the governor has talked about extensively and you’re beginning to see it really happen.”

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