Governor Justice to use CARES Act funds to repair roads, local leaders raise concerns

Monongalia County Commission President Tom Bloom asked the Department of Transportation how repairing roads helps coronavirus patients.
Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 5:58 PM EDT
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West Virginia received $1.245-million in federal relief thanks to the CARES Act signed by President Trump in late March.

Governor Jim Justice announced how the state would be using allocating those federal funds during his COVID-19 briefing on June 26th.

  • Local Governments - $200-million
  • Small Businesses - $150-million
  • Fairmont Hospital - $10-million
  • COVID-19 related highway projects - $100-million
  • Local Public Service Districts - $25-million
  • Reimburse Contingency Fund - $16-million
  • State COVID-19 expense reimbursement - $57-million
  • Workforce WV 2020 - $287-million
  • Workforce WV 2021 - $400-million

During that same briefing, Governor Justice also announced a revenue surplus despite the pandemic. But one of the line items in his proposed use of the CARES Act funds has drawn ire; the COVID-19 related highway projects.

“The question we just had is, how does it fall under the COVID-19 CARES Act?” said Tom Bloom, Monongalia County Commission President.

On June 30th, the Commission received a list of eight roads that the Department of Transportation will repair through CARES Act money. They include Jakes Run, Bethel Rd, Bowlby, Brand Rd, Boy Scout Camp Rd, Little Falls Rd, WV 7 and Opekiska Rd.

“When we asked how they chose the roads they stated that these were emergency roads that either had to be fixed for going to the hospital or for bus routes,” said Commissioner Bloom.

The Monongalia County Commission did not have any input on the roads selected. They were chosen by state officials according to Governor Justice.

The most vocal critic of this use of funding is Senator Joe Manchin who took to Fox News Tuesday to voice his opposition.

“I don’t know of a pothole that has had the COVID virus. I haven’t found one yet,” said Senator Manchin.

Governor Justice responded to this criticism Wednesday during a COVID-19 briefing.

“We went and got every legal opinion that you could get. and gave them all the information from the highway department on the roads,” said Governor Justice. “The roads were vetted through the EMS and all kinds of different situations to be able to qualify.”

In that same briefing, Governor Justice criticized Senator Manchin for how he handled road repairs while Governor.

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