MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice didn’t show up in Marshall County Monday to take a tour of the roads but Delegate Joe Canestraro, who invited him, said he’s not surprised.
“He likes to talk about how much he loves West Virginia and the people here but we need action,” Canestraro, D-Marshall, told MetroNews.
Canestraro spent three hours on the roads himself Sunday prepping for Monday’s event. He said there were several areas where it was tough to get through.
“I was on Middle Grave Creek Road, Big Grave Creek Road, Sally’s Backbone Ridge and Fish Creek Road and all of them, at some points, are impassable,” Canestraro said. “On Sally’s Backbone Ridge and on Fish Creek, where buses do go, I wouldn’t say they’re one lane roads at this point.”
Canestraro’s cry is that latest of several that have been sounding for the past several months across the state. The Marshall County Commission declared a state of emergency in connection with its roads just more than a week ago.
Canestraro said he’s not giving up on giving Gov. Justice an opportunity to see how bad things are. His website, joecanestraro.com, now has a “Fix Our Roads” link.
“Once they click on that link they can either email the governor, they can upload photos and send them to the governor, they can send him tweets or interact with him on Facebook,” Canestraro said.
It’s a combination of issues that has caused Marshall County’s road problems, according to Canestraro. He said years of neglect, wetter conditions, including a couple of flash floods in recent years and the inability of the state Department of Highways to compete with the oil and natural gas industry for truck drivers and equipment operators have all played a role.
“It has limited the ability of our (DOH) to retain employees because if you have a CDL and make $20-some-an-hour you’re not going to work for the state and make $13 an hour,” Canestraro said.
Canestraro said he wants to see more leadership from Justice in the areas of finding additional funding sources and retaining workers. He said Justice missed an opportunity to get a quicker start on road repairs during the legislative session.
Gov. Justice ordered DOH district engineers and county maintenance supervisors two weeks ago to turn in lists of roads that need work. The lists are in and new state Transportation Secretary Byrd White has said work is underway.
Canestraro said he would like to see some key projects completed in his county during the next few months.
“Between now and the fall, if I saw that two or three roads were repaired here in the county that are well-traveled roads that have problems, that would be a start for me. I would think we have progress at that point,” he said.