Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston outlined an emphasis on highway and road worker safety during Monday’s meeting of the Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on Department of Transportation Accountability.
“Just to go out there and set standard, minimal requirements in these work zones is not good enough, Wriston said. “Our goal is zero fatalities in our work zones. This is the most important thing we will ever do and it’s absolutely my number one priority.”
Wriston described the establishment of a Work Zone Safety Committee to produce an action plan. He later described working with magistrates to assure the enforcement of steeper fines for speeding in work zones.
Wriston also emphasized that West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) is committed to patching every pothole in the state by Memorial Day as part of an aggressive spring repair blitz. Maintenance crews in nearly two dozen counties across more than half of the WVDOH districts have already taken advantage of a few asphalt plants opening early to get a jump start on patching potholes.
Wriston informed the committee that maintenance crews can’t make permanent hot asphalt repairs during the winter, when temperatures are often under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures have to be 40 degrees or above for hot asphalt to stick properly.
Pothole milling and filling is just one part of a multifaceted plan to keep West Virginia’s roads in the best condition possible according to Wriston. WVDOH has a dedicated core maintenance plan that includes keeping ditches clear to stop water from pooling beside roadways, cutting trees and branches that overhang roads to allow sunlight to dry wet roads, and proper pothole filling – milling out a nice square hole, removing all dirt and debris, putting down a sticky layer of tack to make asphalt stick better, and rolling out new, hot asphalt.
A proper patch on a pothole will last for years, meaning there will be fewer potholes to patch next year and the years thereafter.
“We’re going to have a great year paving,” Wriston said. “We’re going to do a lot of bridge work. We’re going to have another banner year in West Virginia with infrastructure.”