Road bond key to W.Va.’s future
State voters have the unique opportunity this week to make huge improvements to our system of highways and bridges by simply marking “yes” on a ballot.
A referendum scheduled for Oct. 7 seeks voter approval of a $1.6 billion bond issue for highway and bridge repairs and improvements throughout the state.
If approved, the measure would allow state officials to sell $1.6 billion in bonds that would be augmented by nearly $300 million in other funds, including federal money. A list of 35 individual road projects to be undertaken has been circulated.
The most vital of those projects for our area is completing new Corridor H construction, which Gov. Jim Justice has called “by far the most important road project to our state.”
“We currently have about 7 miles of the Kerens to Parsons section under contract,” Tom Smith, the state commissioner of highways and secretary of transportation, said earlier this month. “The Roads to Prosperity (bond issue) program would allow us to finish Corridor H over to Parsons. It would be finished and open to traffic.
Officials say new taxes will not be necessary to pay off the bonds. State legislators approved about $130 million in higher fuel taxes and fees paid by vehicle owners this spring. That money, earmarked for the bond project, should be ample to cover it.
Early voting on the proposal began last week. It continues today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, which will be the final day for early voting.
The early voting option makes good sense for Elkins area voters, as the Mountain State Forest Festival kicks off today and the Oct. 7 vote will coincide with the MSFF Grand Feature Parade. Registered voters in Randolph County can vote early at the above times at the Randolph County Courthouse’s Wees Annex, located on the corner of Randolph Avenue and Gay Street in Elkins.
Funding for highways and bridges is needed desperately in our state. For that reason, we endorse the road bond amendment and recommend local residents vote “yes” on it.