2017-09-06 / Opinions

DOH announces projects included in ‘Roads to Prosperity’ bond

At The Capitol
by Phil Kabler
Charleston Gazette-Mail

Division of Highways officials released a 16-page spreadsheet of road construction projects it intends to fund as part of a new “Roads to Prosperity” road building initiative.

That includes 39 projects in 22 counties totaling $1.6 billion that will be funded if voters approve an October 7 referendum for a constitutional amendment authorizing the sale of road bonds.

“People were wanting to see the list,” Highways spokesman Brent Walker said of the release of the spreadsheet. “We thought it was important to get that list up.”

Admitting that a spreadsheet is not the most user-friendly format, Walker said the division will be providing additional information on the various projects.

“We’re working on other more informational, interactive resources,” he said.

In addition to the 39 projects, the spreadsheet includes dozens of road projects in all 55 counties that will be funded on a pay as you go basis, as well as through the sale of federally backed GARVEE bonds and by the sale of Turnpike bonds.

“It’s more than just the general obligation bonds, although the “Roads to Prosperity” referendum is such an important part of it,” Walker said.

According to the spreadsheet, the bond referendum would fund big-ticket road projects, including:

— An I-70 bridge replacement in Ohio County, $172.5 million.

— Widening Interstate 64 in Putnam County from U.S. 35 to Nitro, including a new bridge over the Kanawha River, $170 million.

— Construction of a four-lane Tolsia Highway from the Pritchard Intermodal Facility to Interstate 64 in Wayne County, $150 million.

— Widening Interstate 64 in Cabell County from East Mall Road to 29th Street, two projects totaling $115 million.

— Construction of a new connector route from Interstate 79 to Morgantown, Monongalia County, $100 million.

— Construction of a fourlane connector from Corridor H/U.S. 219 to a new West Virginia Route 72 interchange, $90 million.

— Expanding West Virginia Route 2 in Wetzel County from two to four lanes from Proctor to Kent, $80 million.

— Constructing the New River Parkway from I-64 near Sandstone to Fall Branch, in Raleigh and Summers counties, $75 million.

— Widening I-81 in Berkeley County, $75 million.

— Widening Jefferson Road in Kanawha County to four lanes from Corridor G/U.S. 119 to U.S. 60, and constructing a RHL Boulevard connector, $66 million.

— Improvements to Corridor G/U.S. 119 from Mac- Corkle Avenue to Jefferson Road, including a new interchange at Lucado Road in Kanawha County, $65 million.

— Widening I-79 in Marion County from U.S. 250 South Fairmont to Pleasant Valley Road, $60 million.

— Widening I-64 at Beckley, Raleigh County, $60 million.

— Other Kanawha County projects include widening W.Va. 622 in Cross Lanes from I-64 to W.Va. 62, $30 million; and various improvements to MacCorkle Avenue, $10 million.

“We’re not in the business to advocate. We’re here to educate,” Walker said of the release of the road projects list.

“Folks are frustrated. They want infrastructure that is modern and that is safe, and we have a real opportunity to provide those upgrades,” he said, adding, “As [Transportation] Secretary [Tom] Smith has said over and over again, “There is a cost of doing nothing.”

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