CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Monday’s Transportation Day at the state legislature addressed concerns about the dire condition of the Mountain State’s roads.
State legislators in both the House and Senate promised to do something in front of West Virginians for Better Transportation, a coalition that holds the Transportation Day event each year.
“People are finally realizing that one, we’re paying a lot more for operator vehicles because of bad roads,” explained Contractors Association of West Virginia executive director Mike Clowser. “Secondly, because of the situation in the state of West Virginia with our budget and with our employment, I think people finally look the nexus between good roads and jobs.”
Clowser said that the jobs problem and the roads problem are directly linked, and fixing roads should come first.
“We do have problems with our budget in the state. We do have problems with our employment. But if we do not address our roads, those are two issues we cannot correct and we cannnot overcome,” he said. ” Fixing our roads will certainly create jobs and economic development.”
After a harsh winter throughout the state in 2015, the state put a lot of money into fixing the resulting potholes, but Clowser said that created another issue.
“You had to borrow from the Small Bridge Repair Program in order to fund the paving and fix the potholes,” Clowser explained.
Clowser recommended an increase in state DMV fees, which he expected could raise between $80 to 90 million.
“It takes more to produce that drivers license than what we pay a year in our drivers licenses,” he said.
With the state facing an expected budget shortfall of at least $350 million, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin did not specifically address road conditions in his State of the State address last week.