DOH Gives Road Bond Vote Presentation
Gus Suwaid, District Engineer for the Department of Highways’ District Six, recently shed some light on the upcoming road bond vote, to be held Oct. 7.
Suwaid gave a slideshow presentation to the Wetzel County Commission at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Suwaid began by saying that, despite best efforts, the WV road network is “substantially under performing, outdated, overused, underfunded, and desperately needing our attention.”
The district engineer explained that 15 percent of bridges are not up to federal standards structurally, and half of the state’s bridges are more than 50 years old. Furthermore, more than one-third of West Virginia’s major roads are in either poor to mediocre condition, and 12 percent of the state’s pavements are in poor condition.
Suwaid explained the state’s current “Roads to Prosperity” initiative. This plan includes several projects in 22 counties, totaling $1.6 billion. These projects will be funded if voters approve the road bond referendum – which would give the state legislature authority to issue $1.6 million in bonds over the next four years. This would allow for major bridge, highway improvements, and construction.
If the bonds are approved, the state DOH would be able to expedite other projects, including secondary road projects. Suwaid said without the vote for the referendum, and without the General Obligation Bonds, the $100 million Secondary State Local Service Roads program is cancelled.
The best known “general bond” project for the Wetzel County area is the WV 2 Widening project, where the road would be widened to four lanes from Proctor to Kent. Secondary road projects, that could be expedited if the referendum passes, are the following:WV 7 Safety Improvements, Renners Bridge (Replace), Van Camp Bridge (Minor Rehab), Galmish Bridge (Minor Rehab), Wade Bridge (Replace), Slide Repair, NHS Pavement Reconstruction and Rehabilitation, and Non-NHS Pavement Reconstructin and Rehabilitation.
Projects that do not appear to be in any danger are Short Line Road (Resurfacing), WV Slip Repair (PO slip repairs Diforce Soil Nails), and Smithfield, Bates Run Road (CT Resurfacing, Guardrail, Drainage). The Short Line Road resurfacing project appears to be an accelerated project, with Federal Aid Funding. Meanwhile, the WV Slip Repair and Smithfield, Bates Run Road projects appear to be “Pay-as-you-go” projects, paid for with DMV fees, gas tax, and privilege tax revenues.
Proctor Bridge replacement is allocated as being funded by “Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle Bond 2.”
A complete list of the “Road to Prosperity” projects is available at www.transportation.wv.gov
Suwaid said the governor’s plan does not add new taxes, yet creates immediate jobs.
Suwaid said not voting for the referendum – the cost of doing nothing – is huge. He said not approving the referendum, would push projects to the backburner, and cost more in the future. However, Suwaid noted, by voters voting “yes” for the referendum, the projects will create more jobs. Likewise, according to Suwaid, factories will hire more to keep up with the demand for materials to complete the work.
In other road-related matters, Suwaid was asked the status of Route 250, between Hundred and Littleton. This area of road was severely damaged during the floods of July 28-29.
Suwaid said the section of road had already been repaired. He noted that additional crews, from other districts, had aided with the repair.