Road Bond: Vote yes on referendum to save our infrastructure

West Virginia’s deteriorating and insufficient roads and bridges are a can that has been kicked down the road for decades. Now, everyone who has gotten backed up in bottleneck traffic on a busy highway or held his or her breath crossing an ancient-looking bridge can stop asking “Why doesn’t someone do something about this?” The somebody with the chance to do something is the Mountain State voter; and the time is this Saturday.

A referendum to be voted on Saturday seeks approval of a $1.6 billion bond issue for highway and bridge repairs and improvements throughout the state. Early voting on the proposal began last week.

If approved, the measure would allow state officials to sell the bonds, which would be augmented by other funds, including federal money. The bond issue would fund or help fund 23 projects totaling $75.7 million in Wood County alone. A breakdown of proposed projects can be found on the governor’s office website, governor.wv.gov.

Of course, there is the concern about whether new taxes will be necessary to pay off the bonds.

But lawmakers have already approved about $130 million in higher fuel taxes and fees paid by vehicle owners. That money is earmarked for the bond project. Another worry has been whether state officials plan to begin charging tolls for use of I-70. For now, according to Gov. Jim Justice, I-70 tolls are not a consideration.

Approval of any bond issue requires an amendment to the state Constitution; and “Roads to Prosperity Amendment of 2017” presents a fairly clear choice to voters. If it will require no new taxes, and West Virginia can finally start making the infrastructure improvements necessary to give current residents what they need, and attract visitors and new employers, the decision seems simple.

It is a good plan; and local residents should vote “yes” on the road bond amendment.

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