Road bond vote a recipe for disaster

Voting for a new road bond program is a recipe for ruin. Just blend in a dash of corruption, destruction and construction.

If you think that West Virginia’s Division of Highways have been chastised in the last few years, think again. More money won’t fix West Virginia’s roads, if the way the money is spent doesn’t get changed.

West Virginia’s roads are falling apart; so goes the headlines of newspapers throughout the state, a story that summarizes a line of thinking about how to fix the states roadway crisis.

The idea that decrepit roads are caused by a lack of money is widespread. Recently the governor has argued that the state should borrow a bunch of money and invest in a road reconstruction surge that would help put idled construction workers back to work and stimulate the economy.

It’s true that a surge in spending could be very helpful in re-building our road systems. And help the employees pf large road building companies. It’s also true that the state’s gas tax has been eroded by inflation, so millions of dollars in general fund revenue had to been diverted to the Department Of Highways.

However, throwing more money at the problem overlooks the fatal flaw in West Virginia’s Highway policy: The system is set up to funnel the vast majority of spending through the Department of Highways and that agency has an absolutely terrible track record when it comes to making smart long term decisions. As long as the DOH retains unfettered control of the money, potholed roads and decrepit bridges will remain the norm.

That’s because the sorry state of West Virginia’s transportation system is mainly the result of wasteful spending choices, not a lack of funding. DOH’s leadership lack of fiscal discipline is nothing short of criminal.

Just an observation: I would guess that many existing state roads don’t carry enough traffic to generate gas taxes sufficient to pay for their own maintenance.

Doubling down on transportation system spending wouldn’t solve this problem. Pumping millions of additional dollars into DOH without reforming the current system could actually make it worse giving that agency license to spend lavishly and will only serve to increase their massive maintenance backlogs.

When I read stories that’s supposed to scare me into voting for a new road bond. I actually think I am reading an endorsement of tremendous waste.

The governor is willing to break the bank on gold-plated highway flyovers designed to scare you into voting yes. West Virginia;s prosperity is not a function of how many roads we pave, or hunks of metal we can erect. Our investments must work to support us, not the other way around.

Send a strong message to your elected official, I will not vote for a high cost, high risk plan, and they had better step up to the plate before we end up with nothing to show for putting the state deeper in debt.

Questions that still need answered:

1. How many dollars from the bond will be spent to offset debt?

2. How much money will be shifted to other agencies?

3: How much money will be spent on resurfacing or rehabilitating the state’s deteriorating roads?

Please don’t get me wrong I think the roads need repairing. Anyone who is not blind can see that.

I do think our Legislature must take a look at and ensure money already being collected and spent is being used in the best interest of the state.

Just an opinion: I am confident they will never ask the hard questions, In doing so they will have to do respond to the answers, and that means going to work.

Robert Ware

French Creek

COMMENTS