CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With the regular legislative session underway, state Senator Ed Gaunch (R-Kanawha, 08) has his eye on a bill that would improve roads in West Virginia.
“I’m going to be looking, in the next few days, to put together actually a revenue bill that will hopefully get some attention here in the Senate and then we can get it over to the House and raise some funds to fix our roads,” he said last week on 580 Live.
President Barack Obama signed a $305 billion federal highway bill into law in December that would provide West Virginia with $2.3 billion over the next five years for highway construction.
The state Department of Transportation plans on using that money to fix parts of U.S. Route 35 in Putnam and Mason Counties, as well as a sections of Corridor H and state Route 10 in Logan County.
Gaunch said fixing the roads is crucial and state leaders need to realize that.
“Once again, I look at this budget this year. There’s nothing in there to address the issue and I think it’s almost to the critical stage,” he said.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways found last year that one third of the state’s major roads are in bad shape, but during his State of the State address this month, he did not mention anything about road conditions.
The governor did lay out a plan to raise taxes on tobacco and another on telecommunications to help the budget for this year and in 2017, but Gaunch said, for roads, there needs to more of those increases.
“You’d have to raise some fees, maybe some DMV fees and that kind of thing to find it — gas taxes and those kind of things. People who are using the roads, I think the fairest way is to look to them to pay for the repairs,” he said.
West Virginia is responsible for maintaining over 35,000 miles of roads.
The 2016 session ends March 12.