WVDOT Discusses Road Issues With Wetzel, Tyler Officials
Representatives from the West Virginia Department of Transportation met on Wednesday, Aug. 15 with state and county officials concerning Governor Jim Justice’s Roads to Prosperity program and the effects it is having on the local area. The meeting took place at the District Six headquarters, located in Moundsville.
Discussed were concerns of potholes, unpaved roads, slip repairs and lack of mowing.
Wetzel County Delegate David Pethtel, thanked the Division of Highways personnel for the work they are doing; he said he has been doing his job for a long time, and he believes he works well with the DOH.
However, he had concerns about the lack of mowing.
“I know some of you personally, and I have respect for your hard work, but I get a lot of calls about the need for mowing. I know some of the equipment is old and it’s tough, but I’m not sure whether it’s a lack of manpower or finances or what.
We just don’t see the mowing like we used to, and the people I represent want to know why. If you can address the issue, I would like to know, so I can go back and have the answer when I’m questioned.”
David Brabham, District Six Manager, and State Highway Engineer Aaron Gillispie both addressed the problem.
They explained there is a combination of reasons, including shortage of manpower and old and outdated equipment.
They said there is over 620 miles of roadways in the county, and they could – and should – be mowing everyday.
However, personnel often have to address more important safety issues – such as slips and potholes, which makes it difficult to take people off those jobs and put them on mowing.
They said they are doing the best they can with what they have to work with; unfortunately they just don’t have a budget that allows them to do everything.
“Our equipment budget in the county is only $422,456. We are concerned with the condition of the roads and the mowing. And we hear what you are saying. It’s just a difficult thing to try and reach some of these areas. We know there are problems, and we are doing what we can. We also thank you for bringing it to our attention,” Brabham noted.
Wetzel County Commissioner Larry Lemon questioned DOH officials about property they own in New Martinsville at the old Bill Forbes Chevrolet Dealership.
“I heard at one point you were going to auction off the property. Now I see the property has a lot of equipment setting around, and it has become an eyesore to the community. The county is trying to attract new business and industry to the area, and it’s becoming even harder with property that looks like that. It’s deplorable. We want to make things attractive, and are working hard to do that. Can you tell me what your plans are with that piece of property?” questioned Lemon.
Lemon was told there had been a time when the DOH planned on auctioning or selling the property, but right now it is not something they are ready to do. “We have the bridge project going on and a lot of other work related to the oil and gas industry, and that’s where we are keeping a lot of the equipment,” they said.
“I understand there is work that needs completed, and I understand the bridge project is in progress; however, if you could at least move some of the equipment and clean it up a little it would help. It is a shame; it’s deplorable,” added Lemon.
State Senator Charlie Clements also spoke about the need for better roads, while also mentioning the ongoing work to try and get the I-68 project started. He mentioned there has been talk of the project for 20 years but no action.
“With the oil and gas industry and amount of people coming in, there is going to be a housing shortage. Property values are going to skyrocket. When the cracker plant starts it will be overwhelming. I have many of the concerns as everyone else. Our roads and infrastructure is a major problem. We cannot handle the amount of business that is on its way here and the amount of people. We have to take care of our roads and look out for the safety of everyone.”
Deputy Secretary of the DOH, Jill Newman, spoke about some of the many things going on as a result of the governor’s road bond program. She mentioned paving projects and slip repairs were top priorities, while also mentioning the amount of money budgeted for each county in District Six.
West Virginia District Six Delegate Roger Romine spoke about paving needs and pothole repairs in Tyler County. He said Rt. 18 through Tyler County was in pretty good shape to the Doddridge County line; however, from there, it is in very poor condition. Romine also mentioned the Route 2 between Paden City and Sistersville as a dangerous area, where slips have been occurring frequently.
He also addressed the issue of heavy truck traffic which the roads were not built for. He said one of his major concerns is the pothole issue. He thanked the DOH for doing what they do with limited resources.
Other issues addressed included the ADA project taking place in Paden City. It was mentioned the cost of the project was nearly $1,000,000, and it seemed to almost be overkill even though the state has to be in compliance.
The topic of the hillside slips between Paden City and Sistersville was again brought up, and the DOH was asked to take a close look at the large separations and stones ready to fall. They were told there have been at least five major slips that covered the entire road and caused detours this year. They were told it’s been fortunate no vehicles have been hit, and no one has been injured.
DOH personnel said they were aware of the problem and would be looking at it and monitoring it. They were also told with school starting, it is always a concern – for school bus drivers, school administrators and parents – that intersections on many of the county roadways have not been mowed, which impairs the view of the bus drivers while trying to access main roads.
DOH personnel told those in attendance that Paden City and Sistersville are both going to be paved in the next year or two. They said Sistersville and Middlebourne would also be receiving ADA compliant sidewalks through town.
Senator Clements along with Delegates Pethtel and Romine also addressed the bridges in the counties. The DOH provided information showing the majority of work in the counties is slip related, pothole patching and repairs and paving.
In Wetzel County, there are 30 slip repair projects at a projected cost of more than $4,500,000; six paving jobs estimated at more than $8,000,000; five bridge jobs at a cost of more than $15,000,000; plus the nearly $1,000,000 ADA Paden City work. Wetzel County has 27 routine maintenance projects scheduled – including road widening, debris removal, ditching, grading and stone work, pothole patching and other repairs.
Tyler County has 15 slip repair projects totaling nearly $2,500,000, plus three paving projects totaling $913,000. There will also be around 115 routine maintenance projects – mainly temporary cold mix patching, ditching and stabilization.
In other DOH news, representatives held an informational meeting on Thursday Aug. 18 to address and answer questions concerning the Route 2 Proctor to Kent four-lane project.
The meeting was to give affected businesses and individuals answers to questions concerning the route of the project and the time frame for start up and completion.
According to the WVDOH, the project route would displace one commercial facility – the Bayer Heritage Credit Union, one industrial facility – the Axiall Brine Piping Infrastructure, five resident displacements, 2.97 acres of prime farmland, 76.52 acres of farmland of statewide importance, and 174.61 acres of forested land. It is also noted there will be noise involvement.
Natural environment affected would be 1,913 linear feet of stream impacts, 3.03 acres of wetlands, and 5.59 acres of floodplains. There is an estimated cost of $87,909,167, including utility and relocation right of way acquisition.
The preferred route relocates a 5.25 mile portion of WV Route 2, beginning 0.47 mile south of the Marshall County line in Proctor to 0.18 of a mile south of Marshall County Route 78, just North of Simms Run in Kent. The proposed improvements include the upgrade of WV 2 from a rural two-lane arterial to a four-lane divided highway.
Several residents and representatives from Bayer Credit Union were present with questions concerning the timeframe for relocation of their businesses and homes. The DOH said that hasn’t been determined yet, and a lot of work still has to be finished before the process of acquisition begins. They said there would be fair offers and negotiations that would give affected parties plenty of time to move or relocate.