West Virginia in search of road funding solution

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, August 16, 2012

To help address a shortage of funds available for road work and escalating expenses for construction materials, a special panel is being assembled in West Virginia to come up with a plan to turn the tide.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Tuesday, Aug. 14, that he will form a blue ribbon panel to study the state’s transportation system and develop a long-term strategy to complete projects.

The governor, who is running for re-election this November, said the plan will include funding options for upkeep, construction and expansion of the state’s road system, which is the sixth-largest system in the nation.

“This new commission comprised of unions, associations, legislators, state and local leaders in transportation and travel industries will develop a long-term plan to help us meet our current and future needs for the safety of the traveling public and the economic development of the state,” Tomblin said in a statement.

Part of the blame for the limited funding available for roads is placed on road-building materials that have jumped as much as 120 percent in the past decade. Diesel fuel prices that have risen more than 300 percent during that time are also cited.

While expenses have gone through the roof, the revenue needed to pay for projects has remained relatively stagnant. At the same time, states are forced to make do with fewer dollars coming from Washington, DC. To make matters worse, the trend is not expected to change.

Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox stated that something must be done because West Virginia “can no longer fulfill general paving and maintenance obligations of the existing system and meet the calls for new highway construction projects.”

The special panel will present a report to the governor prior to the start of the legislative session with suggestions to fund road work. It would then be up to lawmakers to pass any of the recommendations endorsed by the governor.

To view other legislative activities of interest for West Virginia, click here.

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