2017-09-13 / Front Page

Road bond project list includes $65.4 million in possible road, bridge work locally

by Kate Shunney

A special statewide election on October 7 will ask West Virginia residents to decide if the state can sell up to $1.6 billion in road bonds to pay for statewide improvements. An amendment to the state constitution is required to allow for the bond sale.

The special election will be held on October 7 – Apple Butter Festival weekend – with 10 days of early voting before.

Residents who are not registered to vote must do so by the end of next Monday, September 18 in order to be able to cast a ballot in the special election.

Road bond amendment

The special election was called by Governor Jim Justice and is expected to cost $2.8 million. State lawmakers in the 2017 session passed Senate Joint Resolution 6, which sets out details of a possible road bond sales.

The amendment, which is in the text of the resolution, states that “The Legislature shall have the power to authorize the issuing and selling of state bonds not exceeding in the aggregate $1.6 billion dollars. The proceeds of said bonds are hereby authorized to be issued and sold over a four-year period,” the amendment says.

It specifies that $800 million in bonds can be authorized on July 1, 2018; $400 million on July 1, 2019; $200 million on July 1, 2020 and $200 million on July 1, 2021.

The proceeds of the bonds can be used for just two purposes: matching federal funds for highway and bridge construction in West Virginia or general highway and secondary road and bridge construction or upgrades in each county.

If the road bond amendment doesn’t pass, lawmakers have said the state will use the revenue from higher DMV fees and taxes to tackle a long list of highway projects under a “pay as you go” approach.

Justice has named the road bond effort “Road to Prosperity” and said it will allow the state to start overdue highway maintenance and upgrades in all parts of the state. The governor has said improvements to the roads would boost economic opportunity around the state, and employ tens of thousands of people.

Projects here on the list

Division of Highways (DOH) officials released a list of projects that are authorized by the state and could be candidates for completion if the bond amendment passes.

There are 15 Morgan County projects on that DOH list, with a total price tag of $65,395,776. Two of those – the first two on the list -- would be funded through a road bond, according to the DOH.

Projects include:

—Reconstruct U.S. 522 in the county as a four-lane highway around Berkeley Springs ($40,000,000). This is the long-planned bypass that was engineered to turn east of U.S. 522 near Winchester Grade Road, connect to Martinsburg Road and swing back to U.S. 522 north of Berkeley Springs.

—Construction of a two-lane connector road between U.S. 522 and Fairview Drive in the area of War Memorial Hospital ($6,000,000). This is another road project that’s been on the drawing boards for nearly 10 years.

—Replace Spohr’s Crossroads bridge ($761,600)

—Replace Largent Bridge ($5,500,000)

—Replace Pallet Factory bridge on Winchester Grade Road ($2,250,000)

—Replace New Hope Bridge ($3,000,000)

—Resurfacing Legion Street to Burnt Factory ($1,159,676)

—Route 9 safety improvements ($700,000)

—Culvert, ditching, shoulder repair and overlay on Cold Run Valley Road ($450,000)

—Repairs, ditching, culverts and overlay on Johnson Mill Road ($400,000)

—Repairs, ditching, culverts and overlay on Fairview Drive ($300,000)

—Slide repair along roadways in county ($500,000)

—Pavement reconstruction and rehabilitation in county ($3,087,000 and $1,202,000)

—Paving on Waugh Road ($85,500).

Based on coding by the DOH, those local road projects would be paid through different revenue sources.

The Legion Street/Burnt Factory project is designated as “accelerated construction with federal aid funding.”

The Waugh Road, Cold Run Valley, Johnson Mill and Fairview Drive repairs are designated as improvements to local roads that would be funded through DMV fees, gas tax and other tax revenues.

The rest of the projects – bridge replacements, repairs and pavement repairs – are listed as “Candidate projects” by the DOH.

None of Morgan County’s road projects are designated as “Turnpike Bond” projects.

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