We don’t subscribe to Mark Twain’s adage about facts.
Whether they get in the way of a good story or a bad story, so it goes.
Recently, more than a few stories about decaying roads have made headlines, most as a result of slides and slips.
That is, hillsides sliding onto roads or hillsides slipping beneath roads, closing them entirely or partially.
In some instances the state Division of Highways (DOH) is forced to shift money to certain repair projects due to circumstances.
For example, due to the volume of traffic on a primary road, or if there is no viable alternative for accessing an area.
Those kinds of larger projects are almost a given in recent years alongside the constant spate of smaller slides and slips common to this area.
Ranging from the potentially seven-figure costs to shore up the Kingwood Pike to the $80,000-$100,000 to repair Lady Bug Drive, near Osage, this is an ongoing concern and cost we all bear, not to mention an inconvenience.
The public concern about such roads is for good reason — their condition makes them if not impassable, at a minimum, they are not exactly safe.
But the cost of these repairs is lost on most us and apparently on those who budget in the DOH’s central office in Charleston for District 4, as well. District 4 encompasses six counties, including the hundreds of road miles in Monongalia and Preston.
All this might read like a good story about the bad shape of too many of our area roads to some
But leave it to the facts to not just get in the way. Indeed, they might lead one to despair of any resolution. It would be safe to say, as soon as one slide or slip is repaired another one is reported.
As for facts, most slides cost about $1,000 a foot to repair. Yes, per foot. Obviously, a foot doesn’t translate into much in a room, let alone on a road. One mile of road or anything else is equal to 5,280 feet.
Which translates into $5.28 million to repair a mile of slides or slips.
Yet, District 4 typically is budgeted about $1.4 million annually for slide mitigation work — in all six counties. That would cover about a quarter of a mile of such repairs — in all six counties.
Needless to say, even in a good year that doesn’t even begin to adequately budget for such work in District 4. It’s doubtful it would even suffice for one county. And most would agree this has been a very bad year for slides and slips in our area.
We urge the DOH in Charleston to increase this line item in District 4’s budget and stop ignoring the facts.