By December 2, 2015 Read More →

West Virginia must join Ohio in funding new bridge

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — One of the most important highway projects in this area will not be undertaken unless West Virginia officials can find a way to build a bridge over the state’s troubled fiscal waters.

Construction of a new Ohio River bridge between East Ohio and the middle of the Northern Panhandle has been discussed for more than 20 years. Last week, a major step toward constructing it was taken.

Ohio’s Transportation Review Advisory Council has approved funding for a new bridge between Wellsburg and Brilliant, it was reported. The Buckeye State’s commitment is for $36.8 million, to be paid out during a 10-year period and representing about one-third of the cost of construction.

That leaves it up to West Virginia to come up with more than $70 million to get the project started. The state simply does not have that much money on hand.

Various creative approaches to highway funding have been suggested, and some used, in West Virginia. Among them are public-private funding partnerships and, in effect, paying for the cost of work over a period of years rather than all at once.

If West Virginia’s share of the cost can be arranged quickly, work on the bridge could begin next summer. Completion could require another five years.

If they have not devised a funding mechanism for the span already, state officials should come up with one during the next two or three months. Even at that, commencing construction next summer could be difficult.

Construction of the new bridge – as quickly as possible – is very important to our area, if only because of the economic development opportunities the span would present. The sooner work can begin, the better.

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Posted in: Opinion

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