CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Contractors Association of West Virginia released a report Tuesday that it says shows the benefits of having an additional $500 million annually in highway funding.
The study, conducted by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, showed that the state could create nearly 10,000 new jobs and generate close to $1 billion in additional economic output due to increased gross state product.
Of those new jobs, 47 percent would be throughout the economy and not only in construction. This includes retail, mining, trucking, commerce all throughout the state. It would benefit job creations if CAWV invests more in their highway and bridge improvement program.
The investment would also grow state and local tax revenues by $49.5 million, reduce operating costs, increase market access for the state’s businesses, and increase mobility for all system users.
CAWV Executive Director Mike Clowser said even though they are investing in highway and bridge construction, the benefits elsewhere and throughout the state would be great. Clowser said he’s hoping the state can produce the annual $500 million.
“The consequences are we’re going to continue to have the 33-year paving cycle for our state roads, continue to be second in the nation in the number of highway fatalities, we’re going to be third in the nation for the worse rural roads and that’s just unacceptable for the state of West Virginia,” said Clowser.
Clowser said the surrounding states including Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio have all stepped up to the plate to invest in their highway programs and it’s time West Virginia does too.
Clowser said those states have invested because they have seen that highways are key to economic development and jobs. He said they have also come to realize that the federal government will no longer be able to provide the funds necessary to maintain the roads in their states.
“These states are stepping to the plate to do what’s necessary to improve their highway systems,” said Clowser, “As we said all along we either need to take action or we need to accept the consequences.”
Clowser said there several bills in the legislature that would generate more funds for the Department of Highways, but no action has been taken. He said the DOH has seemed to move backwards in the ability to pave roads and fix bridges.
Clowser said instead the West Virginia Courtesy Patrol is being introduced back into the DOH, which will be a $4.5 million additional drain. He said if the courtesy patrol is funded, then their 33-year paving cycle could take a few more years.