UPDATE: Rapid Response Team begins road work in Preston County

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PRESTON COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV)-- UPDATE 3/14/19
Two weeks after sending a team to Preston County, and days after appointing a new head to the WV Department of Transportation, work has begun to repair secondary roads in Preston County.

According to officials, 10 crews have been working on the early improvement of roads designated by the Division of Highways. Projects include ditching, shoulder stabilization pipe clearance, and pipe replacements.

The crews are made up of more than 100 employees from the DOH, making up a Rapid Response Team.

71 of the worker are from outside of District 4, with 50 being housed at Camp Dawson.

Work is set to continue for several weeks.

Drivers are asked to slow down as they travel through work zones.

UPDATE 3/4/19 - 10:30 PM
Preston County Commissioners are still waiting on the state's plan to fix their roads.

After last week's meetings and ride-alongs with Secretary Tom Smith and other DOH officials, commissioners said they expected to hear from the state early this week.

At Monday night's County Commission meeting, Commissioner Samantha Stone said they are still waiting to see what the state's official plan entails.

"I feel like they understand what's happening here," Stone said. "To actually see it and ride on those roads was a big win for our area."

Stone said the DOH did ask county officials to provide the state with a list of local residents who are willing to accept fill dirt that will come from ditches along the county's 1,200 miles worth of roads.

The commission has that application in its office. It will also be available online, Stone said.

"We are standing up, we are being a voice, and we're going after who we need to, so they understand and so we can get some help up here," Smith said.

ORIGINAL STORY 02/27/19 - 05:30 PM
Governor Justice asked Department of Transportation Secretary, Tom Smith, to send the DOH team to evaluate Preston County roads.

Smith as well as State Highway Engineer, Aaron Gillispie, Deputy Highway Engineer, Greg Bailey and District 4 Engineer, Darby Clayton met with member of the County Commissioner to address concerns.

Samantha Stone, a commissioner, started the meeting by reading a letter from a concerned resident begging, like many others, for something to be done.

After she discussed, with them, a list of ideas she has to improve productivity they expressed their eagerness to help.

Smith said they're working to find a way to allocate more money to every county. However he says, for years, they haven't been getting any additional funding.

He said they don't have the resources to meet the needs throughout the state and that Governor Justice has even asked the West Virginia National Guard to see how they can help.

He went on to say that the 'Roads to Prosperity' bond, addressed in 2017, can't possibly take care of all of the back log.

Throughout the meeting, commissioners shared ideas with them in which they said they're open to using.

Ideas such as hiring temporary employees due to the lack of manpower and helping high school students learn a trade.

Something many people all over have been saying is, "we feel like we're being ignored."

"It's reassuring to us that in Charleston now, there are folks who are recognizing this under-funding of maintenance and are trying to actually find a way to infuse more revenue in to help us take care of things. No, we're not ignoring things, but we're trying to take and do with the dollars that we have the best way we can," said Smith.

Smith also told 5 News that an audit released a few months ago isn't accurate to what was actually spent.

He says of the 70% of required core maintenance money, 30% of that has to go to heavy maintenance work such as piping.

He said 100% of the money was spent for maintenance activities and 100% of the money was used in Preston County.

The team expressed their openness to even contracting projects out.

Preston County can expect some additional funds as they work to budget it out. However, he says certain projects can't be delayed, so they still have to prioritize.

The DOH is responsible for 36,000 miles of road and 22,000 miles aren't federally funded.

Stone said seeing them today makes her confident in the future of district 4..

"They are addressing this. We have to figure out the manpower issue. We have some great ideas and they're willing to work with us and I'm very thankful. It's definitely a breath of fresh air," said Stone.

Smith says they're planning to go to other counties as well.