HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Governor Jim Justice appeared in Bridgeport Thursday to pitch his highway construction and repair program, as some details of its impact remain unclear.
Speaking at the Division of Highways District 4 headquarters, Governor Justice said fixing the roads is vital to help bring the state out of the gutter.
"It's high time to quit being dead last," Justice said, to a room of elected officials and DOH workers.
The event, which was open to the public, was an opportunity for Justice to kick off his "Jim's Promise" tour.
He touted the roads initiative as an opportunity to put the state's economy on the fast track.
"You almost can't screw this up," Justice said. "You've got 48,000 jobs--the revenue's going to be to be unbelievable that comes from that."
When asked how many of those 48,000 projected jobs will go to people in state as opposed to contracted out, Justice said he wasn't sure.
"We can get 48,000 jobs," said Delegate Ben Queen (R), who listened to the governor's pitch Thursday. "I want 48,000 West Virginia jobs, I don't need 48,000 out-of-state jobs."
Queen applauds the governor for his commitment to fix the roads, but he's still undecided on a road bond amendment, set for a vote October 7. If voters approve the constitutional amendment, the state would be able to go after billions of dollars in road construction bonds.
"Those road proposals--Bennetts Run, Lumberport Road--I'm not sure if those are from the maintenance part of the deal or if that's the road bond part of the deal," Queen said. "That is not very specific. [Justice] just needs to educate the public."
The sale of the bonds would be financed by already established revenue increases, like a hike in DMV fees and the gas tax increase. Queen cautioned the gas tax could be raised again to help pay off the bond debt.
Governor Justice said the issuance of bonds is critical, and is optimistic it will pass overwhelmingly.
"If the road bond is rejected--and this sounds dramatic--in all honesty, you can just turn off the lights," Justice warned.
The projects in North Central West Virginia include road resurfacing and bridge replacement.
Lumberport Road and Bennetts Run in Harrison County, and the replacement of the Pike Fork Bridge in Doddridge County, are among the projects.
In the video above, Gov. Justice and Queen speak more about the road bond amendment.