Road Repair: Funding needed to fix crisis across state

Apparently, the squeaky wheel does get the grease, or at least, the attention from West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

Last year, Preston County commissioners took the unusual action of declaring a state of emergency over the condition of highways throughout the county.

“Enough is enough,” county commission President Craig Jennings said in a news release. “The road conditions in Preston County have gotten so bad that they pose a danger for motorists, commercial traffic and first responders.”

Commissioners vowed their declaration would remain in effect until state officials do something about Preston County roads.

Last week, Justice did something: He ordered the division of highways to prepare a plan to repair roads in Preston County. The governor declared that, “we will get to the bottom of this problem and correct it.”

Whether that happens remains to be seen. If DOH officials are in a mood for candor, they could comply with Justice’s mandate by issuing a one-sentence report: “Give us more money.” Lack of funding for road repair and routine maintenance is at the heart of the problem.

Perhaps county commissioners in the Mid-Ohio Valley should emulate their peers in Preston County. Certainly there are roads in our region that constitute an emergency situation for those who must travel them regularly.

State legislators are taking several actions intended to address the problem statewide. They are attempting to provide more money for the DOH. In addition, they are considering other realistic actions, such as allowing the agency to hire private contractors to complete some maintenance work if it lacks enough employees to handle the projects.

With all due respect to and concern about our fellow West Virginians in Preston County, that is not the only place where road repair and maintenance has reached the crisis point. If the governor doubts that, we suspect the DOH could give him an education through a short drive over any number of roads in other counties.