Grim Situation

Secondary roads in very bad condition

How bad have secondary roads in West Virginia gotten? Consider that after Gov. Jim Justice asked Division of Highways officials for a county-by-county list of priorities for repairs, he received a document about 21 inches thick.

So yes, the situation is grim.

Now, Justice and other state officials must decide how to whittle that report down to a list of statewide priorities that can be accomplished with the $240 million the governor wants to raise for the work.

But wait. Justice is working from wish-lists submitted by DOH county and regional supervisors. What about the opinions of Mountain State residents who have to travel the secondary roads?

DOH officials probably have an excellent feel for what needs done in their counties and districts, of course. They are the professionals, after all.

Still, the public should be given some opportunity to weigh in, perhaps with special considerations of which the DOH officials are not aware.

There should be ample time to seek public input. While the governor has pledged a $240 million “avalanche” of repair projects on secondary roads, the funding has not been firmed up yet.

During the next few weeks, it may be a good idea for the DOH and/or the governor’s office to disseminate the list of recommended projects and seek comments on it. That could be done through public meetings or an online survey.

DOH officials and the governor’s office would remain the final arbiters of what projects to undertake and which ones to leave on the back burner, of course. No doubt some work desired by the traveling public is simply too expensive to include in the “avalanche,” given the enormous amount of need and limits on funding.

Still, the public ought to be given some opportunity to weigh in on the program.