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Road Bond Editorial: The Exponent Telegram of Clarksburg says vote ‘Yes’

One of the most famous and oft-used movie lines of all-time is “Build it and they will come,” which is from “Field of Dreams.”

In West Virginia, we may see the exact opposite of that: “Don’t build them and they will leave … if they can navigate the potholes and decaying bridges.”

With state residents facing the opportunity to lift the Mountain State to new levels or potentially send it into the abyss, we’re hopeful the past year’s political battles don’t taint the real cause: Making life better for our families, especially our children.

Gov. Jim Justice’s popularity may be swooning after a rough legislative session and his switch of political parties, but his logic and reasoning behind the “Roads to Prosperity” program is sound.

With funding already established to support bond payments, Justice and the overwhelming majority of lawmakers are asking residents for the right to float bond sales that will generate $1.6 billion.

That money will be used to launch the most aggressive road-building campaign likely ever seen among the state’s hills and hollers.

“This is our ticket,” Justice told State Journal Staff Writer Rusty Marks. “This is the single biggest vote in the history of our state.”

Make no mistake. The governor is never one short on showmanship in his own folksy way. But we’re not certain there’s any degree of hyperbole in this statement.

Department of Transportation Secretary Tom Smith says if voters fail to support the road bond, which requires just more than 50 percent of voters to say yes, road programs will be delayed significantly.

“I think it’s fair to say decades,” Smith said. “You just have to suddenly reorder all your projects.”

Justice, painting a picture that seems surreal, but leaves us all wondering, says it more succinctly: “I’d say Plan B if this doesn’t pass is asking the last person to leave the state to turn the lights off. It would be catastrophic to say the least.”

Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, himself a talented and skilled businessman and engineer before entering the government sector, said the road bond measure makes perfect sense.

Acknowledging that for many it may seem to be out-of-the-box thinking and somewhat difficult to grasp the far-reaching effects of the roads program, Thrasher wrote of the dangers of not passing the bond in an op-ed piece for this publication:

“The risk is we will continue to lose what we have now — jobs, industries, schools, communities and overall population. We risk losing a better future for our state, our families and our children.”

On Oct. 7, and during early voting from Friday until Oct. 4, West Virginians have a chance to lift their state to new levels. And with the funding mechanisms already in place, there is no additional financial commitment in the form of taxes needed.

Voting no on the road bond won’t reduce DMV fees and gasoline taxes already passed by the Legislature this past session. It will only diminish their potential use and extend road projects’ timelines instead of expediting them.

West Virginia’s roads truly can lead to great prosperity for all of us, including our children. It’s time to stop the “brain drain” and pipeline of talented young people leaving our state.

The Road to Prosperity bond vote is one that will help determine the state’s future. It’s time our Mountaineer spirit shines bright and we send a clear message of support: Build them so we all can stay and prosper.

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