West Virginia DOH officials discuss Mid-Ohio Valley road projects

Photo by Brett Dunlap West Virginia Division of Highways District 3 Engineer Justin Smith speaks Thursday to officials from Wood, Wirt, Roane, Pleasants, Calhoun, Ritchie and Jackson counties about the status of road projects.

PARKERSBURG — Road projects are in the works throughout the region, according to highway officials.

Officials with West Virginia Division of Highways met Thursday at two meetings with officials from Wood, Wirt, Roane, Pleasants, Calhoun, Ritchie and Jackson counties to discuss the status of road projects and other concerns.

West Virginia Division of Highways District 3 Engineer Justin Smith said the district has 4,566.59 total miles of roads of which the secondary roads cover 1,442.24 miles. Gov. Jim Justice recently directed all DOH officials to identify and prioritize secondary road maintenance needs across the state.

Wood County has 827.43 total road miles of which paved primaries cover 109.62 miles, paved secondaries cover 366.60 miles, surface treated roads cover 119.52, stone stabilized roads cover 159.62 and there are over 72 miles of other grades of road.

The 2018-2019 budget for maintenance in all seven counties is $22,354,212 with over $4.3 million going to Wood, $2.37 million for Wirt, $2.33 million for Pleasants, $2.57 million for Calhoun, $3.3 million for Ritchie and $3.78 million for Jackson.

Land slips around roads are a major concern across the district, Smith said.

“In all seven counties we have over 350 slips,” he said.

For Wood County, highway officials said there are 99 inventoried slips, eight slip repairs either complete or planned for repair in 2019 and three slip repairs being handled by FEMA.

Wood County Sheriff Steve Stephens said at Thursday’s Wood County Commission meeting roads are caving in because of water. There are drainage issues and more impacting a number of roads.

He has seen road graders doing ditching work along roads in the area.

Officials said that after the Roads to Prosperity bonds passed, many were expecting roads to be paved by the following week. People are upset they haven’t seen a lot of progress made.

“There has been a lot of pressure on this administration where they have put a lot on a fast mode so people can see a little bit of things being done in different parts of the state,” Wood County Commissioner Jimmy Colombo said of the change in focus to secondary roads.

Delegate John Kelly, R-Wood, said highway officials discussed what the district is facing.

“They are dealing with a lot of slips and slides,” he said. “That is a major problem statewide.”

They are now doing a lot of ditching work and dealing with obstructions that affect drainage, Kelly said.

Delegate Vernon Criss, R-Wood, said the current ditching work is trying to catch up with several years of ditching not being done.

Officials discussed their equipment needs and what the state has been able to get. They also talked about contracting with trucking firms if they need drivers to carry materials.

There are a number of projects being worked on, Criss said of roads around the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport, plans to repair and reopen the northbound rest area outside Mineral Wells and repair an overpass near Williamstown.

Other challenges include right of way purchasing and environmental studies.

One challenge is keeping water away from roadways so work can be done and the roads can be paved, Criss said.

Wood County Commissioner Blair Couch said the Williamstown Roundabout project has been promised for about five years, with some promising work will start this fall.

The commission is planning to have road officials appear before them to go over more specific projects for this area. Couch hopes that will happen within the next month.

“They are trying the best they can to fix the local roadways,” he said. “It is all a matter of money. They want to be able to do as many roads as possible.”