Road developments encouraging, but big issues still outstanding

We may not be able to change some of the roads we’re on.

But it’s imperative that those we can change become a priority.

Fortunately, local officials, the state Division of Highways and the public appear to agree.

Locally, county commissioners in the DOH’s District 4 have united to form the North Central Roads Caucus.

Some legislators have also joined this caucus’ meetings and last week set up an upcoming session with top DOH officials for June 5.

This caucus has yet to realize its full potential, but we are encouraged by its efforts, so far.

There’s also no doubt that District 4’s engineer is a lot more transparent about projects, funding and setbacks than some of his predecessors.

The DOH is overwhelmed with maintaining and repairing 36,000 road miles across the state.

Still, without the necessary manpower, budget or equipment he consistently attempts to be supportive.

Finally, the public appears to be more concerned than ever with deteriorating road conditions.

Its questions of political candidates about roads and complaints are nothing new, but are more pointed.

But as inspiring as these developments are, some others need to be dragged kicking and screaming into this equation.

One is an open discussion about impact fees on developers to pay for all or a portion of public costs for offsite improvements.

Such impact fees were built into subdivision rules Monongalia County was once considering. However, that proposal fell off the radar along with the subdivision rules.

It’s obvious that some new developments are creating major problems for nearby roads and other property owners.

Without developers helping to reduce the economic burden of infrastructure improvements, it all falls on state or local jurisdictions.

Another issue has to be the state’s allocation for slide repair in each of the DOH’s districts, including District 4.

That allocation for slide repair is $1.4 million, which covers about a quarter of a mile for most such projects.

Many also have to wonder how funding for the DOH’s maintenance pie is being sliced.

For an area that is seeing population growth and contributing a wealth of revenue to the state our return on investment is marginal.

One state senator has called for an audit of District 4’s appropriations to see where the money is going.

The public is also obligated to hold candidates’ and public officials’ feet to the fire on maintaining our roads. Voters should not accept that our road conditions are just the way it is.

Keep the heat on the governor, legislators, county DOH engineers and county commissioners.

We were promised roads to prosperity last year, not roads to ruin.

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