House passes bill to allocate $50 million more to highway projects

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The House of Delegates passed a bill Tuesday that would allocate $50.2 million to the Division of Highways for further highway maintenance work.

HB 154 transfers the money, which became available after the governor raised the state revenue estimates, from the General Fund to the Road Fund. HB 155 specifies that the money will be used for maintenance. Transportation Secretary Byrd White told the members of the House Finance Committee Tuesday the money will go toward bridges, slides and slips.

Tom Fast, R-Fayette

Both bills reached the House floor, where delegates suspended the three-day reading rule to pass them in one day – but not without some debate.

Delegate Tom Fast, R-Fayette, said, “Just because the money comes in doesn’t mean we have to spend it as fast as it comes in.” He suggested using it to repay taxpayers.

But others highlighted the terrible roads in their counties and the impact on residents and businesses.

Finance vice-chair Vernon Criss, R-Wood, said, “We’re trying to pay for the sins of 20 years of neglect.”

House Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor, said roads remains the number-1 issue in her district.

“This is absolutely what the people care about the most. They don’t care if I raise taxes to fix their roads. They want their roads fixed,” Summers said.

Vernon Criss

DOT Secretary White told members of the Joint Committee of Government and Finance later Tuesday the reason the DOH was moving more toward bridges and slip/slide repairs are those are typically handled by a different group of contractors.

Del. Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, said she welcomes the work on the slips.

“We have 700 slips in Marshall County and that’s not an exaggeration,” Zukoff told House members during Tuesday’s floor session. “Our folks are working really diligently in the county and in (DOH) District 6. I think this is money well-spent.”

Both bills passed 95-1, with Fast the lone vote against, and go to the Senate.

MetroNews reporter Jeff Jenkins contributed to this story. 

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