6:00: Morning News

Roads chief says U.S. routes, busy secondary roads to be repaved first

CHARLESTON, W.Va.¬†—¬†State Transportation Secretary Tom Smith says there will be two waves of repaving projects getting started in the coming weeks in the Mountain State.

State Transportation Secretary Tom Smith

Smith met with contractors Tuesday in Charleston, members of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, detailing plans on how the DOH is looking to spend up to $140 million available in the next year following tax and fee increases approved by the legislature and signed into law by the governor.

“Part A is $30 million (in state money). What we’re going to do are two-lane U.S. routes that almost constantly need resurfacing done,” Smith said.

The $30 million will be joined with federal money that the U.S. route projects are eligible for. The second wave of resurfacing, scheduled to begin in August, will be a number of busy secondary roads, Smith said.

“We’ll spend about $100 million (over the next year) on these back secondary roads that hardly ever get attended to. We’ve tried to pick the ones that have higher traffic where the public has been telling us they need repairs. These are smaller easier projects,” Smith said.

The DOH expects to begin getting about $10 million a month from the increased DMV fees and the recalculation of the wholesale gasoline tax. The money probably won’t start coming in for a few months.

Smith said Gov. Jim Justice has stressed getting people to work right away and that’s why they’ll do the roll out as soon as possible. Beginning next year, the $140 million will be used as the debt service payment for a multi-billion road bond amendment that state residents will vote on Oct. 7. That’s when a major difference can be made in the Mountain State, Smith said.

“These first waves that we’re pushing out are much smaller projects that are very needed projects. They’re not very expensive. They’re not that hard to design but when you get to that bigger bond program, where you can get to some real dollars, over several years we get to $1.6 billion–that’s an eye-popping number,” Smith said.

Smith also told contractors Tuesday they can expect $230 million in GARVEE bonds to be sold in October and by early next year $130 million in additional bonds, linked to continued Turnpike tolls, would go to market.

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