Division of Highways tackling maintenance

Give West Virginia Division of Highways employees credit. They have been working hard during the past few months to clear up a routine maintenance backlog estimated by some at about 10 years. It should be cut in half by next summer, DOH Commissioner Jimmy Wriston estimates.

What then? Will the DOH continue to have the funds, equipment and workforce needed to get the backlog down to where it should be — zero? Or will frustrated DOH employees and local officials continue to see ditches that should be cleaned, potholes that should be patched, etc., without being able to do anything about them?

A one-time infusion of cash — some estimate it at more than $100 million — has enabled the DOH to attack the maintenance backlog.

Gov. Jim Justice and state legislators should consider that early next year when they begin discussing a budget for fiscal 2021. West Virginians have seen what shortchanging the DOH means. An adequate maintenance account needs to be built into the budget to avoid watching the backlog build up again.