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Justice: Road bond ‘launching pad’

By EDDIE TRIZZINO

Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va.  — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is looking to reinvigorate the state economy by hitting the state roads.

In a conference call involving the governor and his staff members Thursday, he explained his Roads to Prosperity Highway Program, which will be presented for vote.

“I really believe that it is the single biggest vote West Virginians have ever made in the history of the state,” Justice said. “This road bond referendum is the launching pad to a future of West Virginia beyond belief.”

The state is proposing about $2.8 billion to be used in road construction and maintenance projects throughout the state, which will create about 48,000 jobs in construction, which Justice hopes to have filled entirely by West Virginians.

The vote on the referendum, officially titled Special Election for Constitutional Amendment, will take place Saturday, Oct. 7, with early voting to be held Sept. 22 through Oct. 4.

The bond will not require an increase in income tax, but will use extra money gathered from several increases in other areas already in place, such as the privilege tax, which was raised from 5 to 6 percent; the tax increase from wholesale gas price; an increase in the DMV fee from $30-$50; and tolls from the turnpike.

If passed, projects will begin in early spring of next year, according to Justice’s Secretary of Transportation Thomas Smith.

Justice also highlighted a few projects the money would go toward, such as the many bridges throughout West Virginia as well as Corridor H highway, a route that has remained incomplete for several years.

Representatives from West Virginia statewide organizations also spoke in favor of the proposal, from groups such as the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, the Contractors Association of West Virginia and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

“At our most basic level, our roads are absolutely vital to tourism. We can do everything in the world to get folks here, but if our roads are in bad shape when they arrive, we’re going to deter them from coming back.” Chelsea Ruby, tourism commissioner for West Virginia, said.

“We’re going to see immediate jobs for West Virginians in the construction industry. If we do not have good roads, if we do not have a complete highway system, it makes it very difficult to bring in the Procter and Gamble and the Macy’s,” Mike Clowser, executive director of the Contractors Association of West Virginia, said.

Currently, several counties throughout the state are in need of poll workers for the voting. To get involved in the paid opportunity, speak with your local county clerk’s office.

Email Eddie Trizzino at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.

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