CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Motorists traveling the highways and byways of West Virginia will soon start to see some shiny new equipment handling the work of road maintenance. Governor Jim Justice delivered the first of ten brand new Gradall machines which to the Division of Highways Headquarters in Marshall County this week.
Highways Commissioner Jimmy Wriston says those ten are on the ground, more Gradalls are coming in December along with smaller versions of Gradalls to be distributed to DOH garages across the state.
“You can do just about anything with a Gradall,” Wriston said. “You can load a truck, you can ditch, you can shape the contour of the road. There’s a lot of attachments you can buy for a Gradall.”
The lack of machinery was identified as one of the issues holding up repairs and secondary road maintenance across the state. Governor Justice ordered wholesales changes at the DOH earlier this year which included hiring Wriston to run the department along with Transportation Secretary Byrd White.
“We had some transition time, but we started building a foundation of getting back to our roots. We are getting back to being a maintenance group which required a culture change, but now I think you’re going to start really seeing the results of that,” Wriston said.
Wriston said the agency has been gaining ground every day on the extensive backlog of road issues which need to be addressed He detailed some of the work saying the DOH through June 30th patched more than 7,000 miles of road, ditched 5,000 miles, restored nearly 3,000 miles of unpaved roads, installed almost 50,000 feet of pipe, repaired 193 slips and slides, and put down more than a thousand miles of fresh asphalt. He added they weren’t done and expected to see plenty more work in weeks ahead.
“I understand perfectly we were an easy target, but over the next year you’re going to find we’re not going to be that easy fo a target to criticize,” he said.
Wriston added while the agency’s core focus is on maintenance of secondary roads, there is still ample work being done on the Roads to Prosperity program to bring new highway construction to West Virginia.