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Road Bond Editorial: Bluefield Daily Telegraph says vote ‘Yes’

From the Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

Funds critical for deep south counties 

For starters, the bond would provide $116 million for road improvement projects in Mercer County alone. And other counties across southern West Virginia can expect a similar influx of funding for roadway projects if the referendum is passed.

But passage of the bond also would help to jumpstart two four-lane corridors that are absolutely critical to our region’s future — the King Coal Highway and the Coalfields Expressway. Gov. Jim Justice, when questioned last week by the Daily Telegraph about the road bond and the King Coal Highway, said the future Interstate 73/74/75 corridor will “absolutely” be built if the bond referendum passes.

“They have been trying to build that road for 27 years,” Justice said of the King Coal Highway, adding that construction on the Coalfield Expressway also will resume if the referendum passes.

A current focus of concern for officials in Mercer County is Bluefield’s so-called “Bridge to Nowhere.” The next phase of construction on the project — slated for work by 2019 or earlier — would create a usable segment of the local I-73/74/75 corridor near the Mercer County Airport.

The road bond alone isn’t enough to complete both the King Coal Highway and the Coalfields Expressway. We will need more federal money to complete the roads. But passage of the bond referendum could open the door for the award of additional construction contracts on the projects in Mercer and McDowell counties.

The bond passage also would help to expedite those projects already in the state’s six-year plan, including the next segment of the King Coal Highway in Mercer County.

Of course the big question on the minds of many is will the road bond referendum result in higher taxes? The answer, according to Justice, is a resounding “no.”

“You have been told your taxes will go up (if it passes),” Justice said. “That is absolutely as bogus as bogus can be.”

According to Justice, “every single dollar” of the bond referendum will go toward road construction with “absolutely no more tax increases.”

Here in southern West Virginia, there is an urgent need to repair and replace aging roads and bridges. And it is absolutely imperative for construction to resume on the King Coal Highway and the Coalfields Expressway. We’ve had a Bridge to Nowhere in Bluefield for almost 10 years now. That’s long enough. We need a Bridge to Opportunity. We need a usable segment of the King Coal Highway.

For these reasons, we support the upcoming bond referendum. And we urge voters across southern West Virginia to cast a ballot in support of the road bond on Oct. 7.

The passage of this referendum is critical to our region’s future.

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