Gov. Justice Defends “Roads to Prosperity”

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The governor and transportation officIals held a news conference Friday, and said most of the road bond projects are on track. They did address the issue of a cost overrun on the I-70 bridge project in the Northern Panhandle. 24 bridges will have to be renovated, instead of the original estimate of 18. And, the cost of asphalt and steel have shot up dramatically, making the project 100-million dollars more than the first estimate.

“Suddenly with these bigger projects we are talking about now, with the extra market conditions that have recently happened, they’re come in higher. What we’re going to do is find ways to manage that,” said Secretary Tom Smith, WV Dept, of Transportation.

But the Department of Transportation in anticipating close to 300-million dollars from so-called bond premiums and that may offset some of the higher material costs. Still, many Democrats are worried.

“I think it’s a giant concern that the first project we go, goes 60 percent over budget. And we’re thinking that’s going to be a trend and move forward, and that will cut the projects that we can complete in half,” said Del. Andrew Robinson, (D) Kanawha.

House Minority leader Tim Miley issued a recent press release wondering of the transportation department, “intentionally underestimated project costs” and wondered if highway officials were not competent in there estimates. The Governor fired back:

“That’s why I called Tim Miley Nancy Pelosi. Absolutely you deserve more. It’s nothing but garbage politics. To take that cheap of shot at you is shameful,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.

Miley says the governor’s office is guilty of maladministration.

“Despite the multi-million dollar cost overruns on the Interstate 70 project the transportation secretary says most other projects are coming in pretty close to estimates,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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