Preston County Commissioners discuss road conditions

KINGWOOD – Preston County Commissioners met with Department of Transportation District Engineer Donald L. Williams to discuss the conditions of the county roads. On April 19 the Preston County Commission declared a countywide state of emergency due to road conditions that exist throughout the county.

“The steering wheel almost jerked out of my had and I was driving an ambulance,” Duane Hamilton, E911 Director said. “Something needs to be done.”

Hamilton was not the only one to comment on the condition of Preston Counties road. “This has been an eight year process,” Preston County Commission President Craig Jennings said. “If it was just Route 26 and the rest of the roads were pristine, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Williams said he agreed the roads are in “bad shape”. He said district four is made up of six counties, Preston, Doddridge, Harrison, Marion, Monongalia and Taylor Counties. “District four has the longest road mileage in the state, and Preston County has the longest in both the district and the state,” he said.

Williams said it cost $200,000 per mile to pave a road and if ditching and cutting brush is added the price raises of $400,000 per mile. “I get five million a year, that’s twenty five miles of two lane. On the average we can repair twenty five to forty miles a year.” He said there are roads that hasn’t been ditched in seven or eight years.

“When we look at the district every road is important. You get requests far above your budget,” he said. “We don’t have the money to maintain roads the way we want to.”

“I’ve got a lot of excuses on why we can’t,” Jennings said. “There’s no way our roads are acceptable. I travel all over the state. Other counties don’t have the problems we have in this district. I want the roads these other counties have.”

He said he did not believe it was too much to ask to be able to go the speed limit on Preston County roads. “You’re not keeping up. We have to get the state to help you. We can’t live like this (Route) 26 is atrocious.”

The Preston County Department of Highways is currently down by nine people, according to Williams. It takes 60 days for an employee to be placed on the payroll.

“If this is statewide, the Governor and Legislatures need to look at it,” Commissioner Dave Price said.

Williams said there is no money to pave roads at this time. He asked to be placed on the agenda every other month to keep the county updated.

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