Infrastructure: WVDOT picture of roads is realistic

West Virginia Division of Highways officials visiting our region this week have a lot of good things to talk about. But among their missions seems to be dispelling the starry-eyed sentiments from Gov. Jim Justice that “Roads to Prosperity” was some kind of magic phrase that would bring all the money we needed to revive our state’s economy.

“That is not the case,” said state Highway Engineer Aaron Gillespie. “We still have a limited amount of funding. We have to watch that.”

In addition to understanding the limits to that funding, residents are waking up to the reality that a lot of the money is being spent simply on catching up with projects that were long over due. That is as it should be, of course. Infrastructure that has been in desperate need of repair for many years is finally getting some attention.

As Gillespie pointed out, ours is a state in which the roads are under constant assault. Emergencies and natural disasters (flooding comes to mind), topographical challenges, snow and ice (and the products used to melt them), industrial traffic such as trucks used in the coal and natural gas industries, and the simple passage of time all take a toll on our infrastructure.

“We have been in a drought when it came to doing what we needed to do,” Gillespie said. “We are happy to have this (influx of funding).”

In other words a lot of the money now flowing in will be used in simply bringing the infrastructure we already have up to where it should be. THEN we can start on those shiny new projects that make for such good political talking points.

“Our highway needs far outweigh the resources we have, even with this large influx of money we had this year,” said Deputy Secretary for the West Virginia Department of Transportation Jill Newman.

Good for the folks at the WVDOT for understanding that and doing their best to explain it to those who might have gone in too far in believing Justice’s grand proclamations. Certainly taxpayers who have to make similar decisions in their own lives will have no trouble understanding that taking care of existing needs first is, as Gillespie put it, “doing things the right way.”


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