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Editorial: W.Va. Roads to Prosperity bond initiative lacked road map

From The Dominion Post: 

“Adventure is just bad planning.” So said the explorer Roald Amundsen.

This coming from the first person to reach both the Earth’s poles because of careful preparation gives him all the bona fides one needs to say such a thing.

Most would agree the heavy sledding to move the “Roads to Prosperity” amendment forward qualifies as an “adventure.”

In April, lawmakers passed Senate Joint Resolution 6, which provided for a referendum on the Roads to Prosperity amendment.

Then in June, the Legislature passed several bills to pay for the $1.6 billion road bond plan.

Finally, this week, after voters approved the road bond plan Oct. 7, legislators expediting hiring at the Division of Highways (DOH) and elsewhere.

Though some of the road projects these bonds will finance are under way, many more will likely be stalled this winter.

Skeptical as many are of the DOH, many others, including us, are even more skeptical of the Legislature.

We cannot help but think: Why has this process to respond to a dire need taken so long to mush?

It’s not like no one knew that a definitive funding mechanism would be required by financiers to sell these bonds. Or that the DOH would need to fill the rash of vacancies — more than 500 of them — to proceed with this roadwork.

Oddly, Gov. Jim Justice called the special election for Oct. 7 — in late June, three months after it was green lighted by lawmakers.

So why didn’t the Legislature and the governor move on this preparation months ago and spare taxpayers the added expense of special sessions?

Sure, there were other squabbles on their agenda, including “reforming” the state’s tax structure and filling that black hole in the budget.

Call all this hindsight, but this year’s regular session of the Legislature seemed disjointed from start to finish.

As with legislative sessions, good plans that could be implemented are put on ice in hopes of perfect ones later.

It’s tough to be overly optimistic about these road projects when they were predicated on such a slippery path year.

No, this is not just simple foot dragging, but it does speak to the lack of planning in both chambers of the Legislature. Though we’ll tip our hat to the governor for pushing this initiative forward, his leadership skills leave a lot to be desired.

Amundsen’s treks proved relatively uneventful in contrast to the disasters that befell others a century ago.

Preparing for road bond initiatives and such expeditions are truly poles apart.

But the easiest way to do either is to carefully plan.

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