The Governor and transportation leaders held a news conference Monday, to announce two new programs that will help West Virginians keep up with road and highway issues, but there are concerns.
So far, bids on certain projects like the I-70 work planned for Ohio County, have exceeded estimates by $100,000,000. The transportation secretary, Tom Smith, said the cost of labor and materials for things like asphalt and steel have gone up.
“What I’m saying is if things cost more, we have to adjust the budget and react accordingly,” said Secretary Tom Smith, WV Dept. Of Transportation.
But Democrats are concerned and worry a pattern may develop.
“Well, what I think will happen is the Governor will start deleting things and items off the list. And that’s not what was promised to the Legislature and that’s not what was promised to the West Virginia people when they voted to move this bond forward,” said Del. Andrew Robinson, (D) Kanawha.
But the governor is pressing ahead. He unveiled two new programs, including DriveForwardWV.com where people can monitor ongoing construction and apply for highway jobs. The second is a so-called “SWAT Program” where people can report road problems or issues, and the state will look into it.
“Like I’ve said, many, many, many times, this roads thing can drive us to an economic level and prosperity beyond belief,” said Gov. Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia.
The transportation secretary says West Virginia has about 500-job openings related to the road bond work.
“The Roads to Prosperity program is supposed to last for 10 years, so it’s possible changes in labor costs and costs of materials could affect certain projects as we move down the road,” said Mark Curtis, 59 News Chief Political Reporter.