Early voting on road bond begins

PARKERSBURG — Friday’s pace was slower than past elections on the opening day of early voting on the bond referendum in West Virginia.

By late Friday afternoon, 114 people voted, Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes said.

“It’s been kind of slow,” he said.

Called the Roads to Prosperity Amendment, the bond would allow for the issuance of $1.6 billion to finance transportation and infrastructure projects around the state.

It is supported by Gov. Jim Justice and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and was opposed by the state and Wood County Republican Party executive committees. Supporters say the bond will create more than 40,000 construction jobs and improve the transportation system in West Virginia.

Election day is Saturday, Oct. 7. Early voting ends Oct. 4 in all counties.

Usually early voting traffic in Wood County is much greater, according to Rhodes. In the previous two elections, more than 100 people have voted in the first hour after the poll opened, he said.

However, Rhodes anticipated the pace would be slower for this election, which is a special election. Subsequently, fewer personnel were stationed at the Judge Black Annex for early voting, he said.

“I told them if it gets backed up, we’ll send somebody over,” Rhodes said.

Early voting in Wood County will be held 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today and Sept. 30 at the Judge Black Annex on Market Street.

Hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today and Sept. 30 at the courthouses in Pleasants County and Jackson County.

The hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today and Sept. 30 at the courthouses in Tyler County, Wirt County and Ritchie County.

Hours are 8:30-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today and Saturday at the courthouses in Doddridge County, Gilmer County and Roane County.

Justice was in Parkersburg on Sept. 16 to promote the bond. More than 70 projects are slated in Wood County and surrounding counties.

Several dozen are proposed in Wood County. Two of the major jobs proposed in Wood County would reconstruct and widen West Virginia 14 to four lanes from the Parkersburg City boundary south to the newly relocated Route 14 four-lane highway and reconstruct W.Va. 2 to a five-lane highway from County Road 3/8 to about a third of a mile northward.

Passage of the referendum will not raise taxes. The Legislature this year created the funding mechanism to repay the bond through higher DMV fees, higher tolls and a 3.3 cent gasoline tax increase.

The West Virginia Roundtable on Friday endorsed the Roads to Prosperity Amendment.

“The state’s business leaders and executives enthusiastically support this amendment, which will revitalize the state’s infrastructure and provide for economic growth,” Roundtable Chairman Tom Heywood said.