CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Division of Highways Commissioner Jimmy Wriston says the maintenance work being done now on the state’s secondary roads is like putting money in the bank because it will pay off in the future.
“Once we get caught up we can get back to a routine core maintenance plan. Then we will see great improvement and start focusing on bigger things,” Wriston said during an appearance Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline.”
Wriston said the DOH is also working on getting more information out to the public on the work taking place. He said an interactive map will be available soon at the agency’s website.
“I would say, ‘Coming soon, watch the website,'” Wriston said. “You can track things by what we’re posting now but we’ll have an interactive map up there before long.”
Another week of maintenance wrapping up! From May 6 to May 12, our maintenance Stat of the Week highlights the 22,353 tons of materials used to stabilize secondary roadways.
— WVDOT (@WVDOT) May 16, 2019
Gov. Jim Justice announced a renewed emphasis on secondary roads in mid-March. Since then, according to Wriston, 19 tons of asphalt used in patching, dozens of banks and shoulders stabilized and more than 3,000 road miles where ditching and blading has taken place.
Some progress is being made, Wriston said.
“We’ve got a long way to go. We have to be very realistic and understand that we have years to catch up on but we’re making progress. We’ve got the right mind set,” Wriston said.
There is some paving being done now. Wriston said contractors are catching up on purchase order paving that didn’t get done last year because of wet weather. He said new purchasing orders for this year’s projects have been issued.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) May 16, 2019
Wriston said both the DOH and contractors need additional workers. The DOH held a job fair in Mason County Thursday with another one scheduled for Friday in Charleston. Because of the manpower shortage, the agency will likely hire smaller contractors to do ditching, pothole patching and summer mowing.
There’s a long list of road slips and hillside slides that need repaired. Wriston said that’s become a top priority.
“I’ve instructed the engineering division to prioritize those slides. Let’s get those off the plate. Let’s get what we can get done,” Wriston said.
Patience is wearing thin in several counties. The county commissions in Marshall and Hancock counties have declared states of emergency in connection with road conditions in recent weeks. Preston County was the first to do so last year. Wriston said the agency has to make progress each and every day. He said they also have to be realistic and open to criticism.
“We’ve planned our work and we’re going to work our plan. We’re going to put that information out and we’re going to be totally transparent so people can see how we’re doing,” Wriston said. “If we accomplish the plans that we put out–that’s success. Anything less than that, I should be accountable for it.”