Governor Justice responds to Harrison County mayors' road concerns

HARRISON COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) - Governor Jim Justice stopped in Harrison county Thursday to celebrate the two year anniversary of his "Roads to Prosperity" project.

This, just one day after the Harrison County Mayor's Association decided to send him a letter citing their concerns about the project.

"The thing that the mayors of Harrison County have in common is that we all have state roads that run through our municipalities," said Ryan Kennedy, mayor of Clarksburg "And we're all dissatisfied with the maintenance of our roads,"

Mayor Kennedy explained that there are two main suggestions given to the governor in the letter.

The first is to make competitive pay for road workers to keep up with the gas an oil industry.

"There are other places that pay better and people move on to better paying jobs," Kennedy said "So if DOH were more competitive in it's pay scale then it could keep skilled people to maintain our roads,"

When asked about pay raises in the future, Governor Justice claims that the gas and oil industry's success in the state is forcing them to stay competitive.

"The fact that the gas companies are bidding for labor at a higher rate, that moves our rates up as well," Justice said "It's great competition,"

Mayor Kennedy says the county leaders also want to reach a deal where local contractors can tackle some road issues.

"The state could enter into agreements with local towns and in exchange for them compensating us for our costs including labor and materials, we can actually do some of the low-level maintenance on the roads ourselves,"

Byrd White, the secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT), was also at the press conference.

He said they are trying to incorporate more local contractors into projects, but claims it isn't always cost effective.

"We have done some contracting out on ditching, and we found it to be really cost prohibitive frankly, on some of it," White said "Some of it we want local contractors and we're trying to get them and if they're on our bidder's list we go to them every time,"

The governor will be returning to Harrison county for a town hall meeting in Bridgeport next week where he is expected to talk more about ongoing road issues.