July 9, 2019

Ann Ali

‘We shouldn't celebrate a decision to sink our precious resources into the lowest-traveled stretch of highway in West Virginia.’

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Republican gubernatorial candidate Woody Thrasher stood near a long-neglected Kanawha County road Tuesday, July 9 to drive home the need for a reasonable, sustainable roads plan, which he has and will implement as governor.

“Our roads should be an investment with a true return for our state — not an empty expense for the sake of a flashy announcement or a cushy ride to work for just one person,” Thrasher said. “We shouldn’t celebrate a decision to sink our precious resources into the lowest-traveled stretch of highway in West Virginia.”

When Jim Justice first proposed his “Roads to Prosperity” bond amendment, he promised roads all over West Virginia would be fixed if voters would give him the resources. As usual, Justice has failed to deliver on his over-the-top promises and once again shows he’s unable to properly handle high-dollar deals in the long term.

“I hear it in every community I visit — our roads are worse than ever, and he’s trying to slap a showy bandage on a long-term crisis he’s turned a blind eye to for the past three years,” Thrasher said. “He’s trying to take the Roads to Prosperity money earmarked specifically for new construction and divert it to the maintenance he’s neglected, never once stopping to craft a sustainable plan for truly fixing our roads and keeping them that way.”

Counties are now comparing the funding that was promised when they were being courted to approve the bond amendment with what the Division of Highways is actually allocating for projects. The amounts don’t add up. The hasty response to the states of emergency declared in Preston, Marshall and Hancock counties over the roads has been to divert the manpower and resources from other counties just to try to catch up on routine maintenance.

“The longer we wait, the more roads will need to be rebuilt, not just repaired, and the more it will all cost,” Thrasher said. “Our Highways workers are doing the best they can with severely limited resources and a chief executive who specializes in stopgaps. We need to help our Division of Highways recruit and maintain the designated workforce levels in each county.”

The state’s Highway Operations Core Maintenance Plans, issued July 15, 2010, under West Virginia’s longest-serving secretary of transportation, Paul Mattox, call for all paved roads to be patched at least once a year, ditched at least once every three years and mowed one to three times per year. Those plans have been the basis for projecting road maintenance schedules since they were issued. A study of just four counties reveals that maintenance is running far behind that schedule, and it’s safe to assume the rest are as well.

The Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways report issued in 2015 found that the state needed to infuse as much as $700 million more each year into highway projects. Justice never addressed it, even as state revenue collections have increased.

Thrasher’s roads plan includes utilizing private-sector contract workers to help catch up on necessary maintenance and balancing our resources to suit our needs.

“I have a solid track record of completing projects on time and under budget, and if Jim Justice had been a full-time governor, he would have known how far behind we’ve been on repairs and how much his over-inflated promises are costing us,” Thrasher said.

Paid for by Woody Thrasher for Governor 2020