A legislative audit of the West Virginia Division of Highways or WVDOH maintenance budget recently confirmed that the extra money spent on road maintenance over the past several years is paying off statewide. “The overall increase in funding and subsequent increase in maintenance expenditures has resulted in a large growth of completed projects by the WVDOH,” the legislative audit reported. “The additional funding has assisted the WVDOH to more than double the total number of completed projects from calendar year 2019 to 2022 while steadily increasing production each successive year,” it said.
In 2019, in conjunction with the $2.8 billion “Roads to Prosperity” program, Governor Jim Justice (R) and the WVDOH – a division of the West Virginia Department of Transportation – launched the “Secondary Roads Initiative.” That effort specifically targeted previously underfunded roadways for maintenance work. Over the last three years, the governor’s administration and state legislature have provided the WVDOH with more than $477 million in supplemental budget appropriations and budget transfers for highway maintenance.
The “Secondary Roads Initiative” also helped WVDOH return to what WVDOT Secretary Jimmy Wriston called the “roots” of the WVDOH as a maintenance organization to take care of existing infrastructure, and allowed for an increased emphasis on core maintenance. Core maintenance includes milling and filling potholes to keep roads smooth, clearing ditches to keep water off roadways, removing brush and trees from overhead to allow the sun in to dry off wet roads, and stabilizing gravel roads.
WVDOH has also worked to increase the capability of its workforce, providing equipment and training necessary to use its own crews for paving and pile wall drilling projects in addition to those let to contractors in order to pave more miles and repair more slides.
“Overall, the recent emphasis placed on maintenance will benefit the state for years to come,” the legislative audit concluded. “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.”
“We are getting more efficient,” WVDOT’s Wriston noted in a statement. “We have returned to our roots. This is telling us that our folks are doing a good job.” Information courtesy of AASHTO.