Opinion

Lawmakers need to find money for road work

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Once upon a time, drivers told stories about road trips on which they were able to tell when they had crossed the border into West Virginia based on road conditions, rather than looking at signs. Smooth sailing was replaced by a bumpy ride, and travelers knew they were home.

Today, the Mountain State’s roads and bridges are crumbling again. Our state ranks 49th in the country when it comes to capital investment per state-maintained highway mile. A recent report, which, granted, was put together by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, suggests a $500 million increase in West Virginia’s infrastructure improvement program – sustained annually – would not only mean safer highways and bridges, but generate $994.5 million in economic growth and support or create 9,630 jobs.

In fact, the report says investment in roads and bridges is “a fundamental component of any plan to grow the state’s economy and boost its competitiveness in regional, national and international markets.”

There are, of course, plenty of other ways for lawmakers to spend $500 million. It is not a sum of money that can simply be conjured up, nor is there any shortage of other needs. But in considering priorities for next year’s budget, the Republican majority that pledged a push toward job growth and keeping job-seekers from leaving the state might want to start now in looking for ways to spend, perhaps not $500 million, but at least some additional money on improving and maintaining the roads and bridges we all need to get us to and from those new jobs safely.

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