MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — One of the road consultants that lost the bid on the West Virginia Division of Highways contract for “consulting services to assist with the coordination and oversight of the governor’s Secondary Road Maintenance Initiative” is disappointed – not with losing but with who won.

As previously reported, the open-ended contract went to TB & RR LLC, formed May 23, just two months after Gov. Jim Justice announced his roads initiative. The principals are two retired DOH district engineers, James “Rusty” Roten and Thomas Badgett. They bid $199,050.

“It gives the appearance of impropriety and it gives the appearance of favoritism,” said Abby Childs, owner of Inca Roads, based in Salem, during a phone interview. Her firm had the second-place bid of $249,750.

While the governor was supposedly seeking outside consultants, Childs said, it appears the bid specifications were narrowly crafted to suit a pair of DOH insiders. The governor wants to do something different to address secondary road problems, but hires two former employees who’ve been part of the same old thing.

She hand-delivered Inca’s bid and was on hand when all four were opened, she said. “We were, trying to make a difference, give our knowledge to the state.”

She added in an email, “I felt that my knowledge and experience would be an asset in this area. Being a locally based woman-owned small business with both a personal and professional interest in our roadway conditions; we submitted a bid knowing that we could satisfy the requirements while offering new and fresh perspectives.”

The contract raises, the question, Childs said, “Do we residents and road users want the same folks who were in charge of maintaining our roadways while they declined into their current dilapidated state, actually again advising the division?”