Governor Justice announces plan for secondary road maintenance

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Governor Jim Justice announced a plan, Wednesday, to speed up repairs on secondary roads in West Virginia.

"It's a crying, pitiful shame, the shape of our secondary roads and we need to do something about it," said Justice.

In the press conference he said the summer and spring statewide paving and resurfacing program will be the most 'fiscally and responsible' way to fund the maintenance.

"It will be a combination of contracted work and work done by DOH crews using their own equipment," said Justice.

His plan also includes hiring temporary workers, buying equipment for each district and to renew the emphasis on heavy maintenance crews to be used in areas with slides and major projects.

Something Monongalia County Commission President, Tom Bloom says isn't all that easy.

"We have had 20 openings in our district for two years. We can't find the people at that working wage," said Bloom.

The governor mentioned using money from avenues such as taking some from the "Roads to Prosperity" project and using some of the state's general revenue.

However, Bloom says its unfair to use money from a project that the public voted on for other reasons.

"We sold it to the public for future economic growth. We did not say for repair. We're misleading the public. We're going to be double-dipping our own funds that citizens voted for and it's going to hurt us again," said Bloom.

Governor Justice said he wants a new direction to be taken after hiring Byrd White as the new DOT secretary. He will be replacing Tom Smith who was fired on Sunday.

The Governor hopes projects will stay on the right timeline.

"I hope to goodness above we can do a whole lot more than make a dent in fixing our potholes and patching our roads and get our roads back the way that they oughta be," said Justice.

Commissioner Bloom says he plans to meet with the other commissioners in the county to discuss the potential of filing a lawsuit against the state for knowingly allowing unsafe road conditions.

Bloom also said there's a possibility that Monongalia County will declare a state of emergency due to road conditions.