CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia Department of Transportation says the money the state is spending on road maintenance is paying off.
The WVDOT says a recent West Virginia State Legislative Auditor’s Office audit of the maintenance budget for the West Virginia Division of Highways showed the extra money that has been spent on maintaining roads in the past several years is helping to provide better roads for drivers in the Mountain State.
According to the WVDOT, the increase in funding has allowed the WVDOH to increase their production each year, more than doubling the number of projects completed from 2019 to 2022. The report states the WVDOH has been “steadily increasing production” each year.
The DOT says several of these projects were completed through the Secondary Roads Initiative, which was launched in 2019 in conjunction with the Roads to Prosperity program and designed to target the roads that had been previously underfunded for maintenance work.
WV Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E., says the initiative has allowed the WVDOH to return to its “roots” as a maintenance organization, allowing workers to take care of existing infrastructure and core maintenance. He says this includes milling and filling potholes, clearing ditches, removing brush and trees hanging over roads and stabilizing gravel roads.
“We are getting more efficient,” Wriston told the West Virginia State Legislature’s Post Audits Subcommittee during legislative interim meetings in December. “We have returned to our roots.”
According to the WVDOT, the initiative has also allowed the WVDOH to increase workforce capabilities by providing equipment and necessary training to use its own crews for more projects
The WVDOH also debuted three Mountain Rides scenic routs and cut ribbons on major projects in 2022. The WVDOT says the WVDOH also broke its record for tree canopy clearing by clearing 170 acres in one season this year.
According to the WVDOT, the governor and state legislature have provided more than $477 million in supplemental budget appropriations and budget transfers for highway maintenance since 2019.
“Overall, the recent emphasis placed on maintenance will benefit the state for years to come,” legislative auditors said. “Recent maintenance efforts made by the WVDOH, and additional funding provided by the Legislature has allowed the state to perform additional necessary overdue roadway maintenance. Underfunding of roadway maintenance is not just an issue plaguing West Virginia, but an issue the nation is facing.”