The West Virginia Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways met this morning at the Capitol and discussed a myriad of issues relating to the our state’s roads.
The newly-formed committee, which met for the first time last month, is charged with studying the biggest issues facing West Virginia’s roadways.
The members represent industry, construction, associations and economic development agencies. The commission also includes citizen members representing the state’s three congressional districts.
The group is tasked with studying the condition and needs of the state’s transportation system and developing a long-term strategic plan of action. The plan will include funding options for the maintenance, construction and expansion of the state’s roadway system.
Funding was the dominant theme of today’s meeting as stakeholders are attempting to find creative ways to finance and fund capitol projects and road maintenance in the wake of diminishing federal funds. Secretary of Transportation Paul Mattox discussed a series of reports presented to the commission that study ways to finance and fund road projects.
Mattox noted that every state is dealing with dwindling federal revenue leading to a diminishing amount of federal funds being allocated to states for road maintenance. The depletion of funds does not look to be changing anytime soon and with that in mind, the commission discussed multiple options for funding including looking at the state’s gas tax, DMV fees and putting the counties in charge of financing their own road maintenance, among other options.
Director of the program planning and administration division of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Rob Pennington discussed a looming funding gap with the committee. Currently, West Virginia has a $1 billion per year funding gap between the funds the state has and the amount of money it would take to bring the state’s roads fully up to date as well as fund all outstanding capitol road projects. The gap is $400 million per year to simply maintain the state’s road system as it is and prevent deterioration.
The Commission will meet again next month.