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DOH shares list of roadwork with Preston

KINGWOOD — The State Division of Highways (DOH) shared a list with the Preston County Commission of work done on roads and work planned.

County commissioners requested the lists after a July 21 Zoom meeting with DOH District 4  representatives. One is a list of 39 roads  commissioners inquired about and the DOH’s response on what has or will be done to them; the other is a list of proposed projects discussed by the DOH, some spanning several construction seasons.

So what’s next?

“Just kind of keep an eye  on what they said they would do and see if whether or not it’s actually being done,” Commissioner Don Smith said Monday. “We all know there’s certain things they may not get done because of the weather or whatever, but let’s just see what they get done.”

People are concerned about roads, Commission President Samantha Stone said. She has logged a lot of miles on her vehicle, driving  the roads people call her to report need repairs.

 “That way I understand what I’m going to bat for, rather than just saying ‘the road needs fixed,’ because there are so many different issues across the county,” Stone said.

She is disappointed in the responses the DOH provided via the list.

“I think that until our governor and until our legislators make the changes that have to happen in Charleston, at the state level, I think we’re always going to be behind the eight ball here in Preston County,” she said.

The reason is lack of manpower, she said. And that goes back to funding and paying a good wage to employees. That isn’t something the county can fix.

 She and her fellow commissioners will continue to voice concerns and hold the DOH accountable to its promises. “And hope that we can continue to get somewhere by the continued effort of many people.” That includes residents, she said.

For example, Commissioner Dave Price said, a resident on Seese Road has  done traffic counts on his road. Commissioners need those extra ears and eyes, now that the list is out, to see how much of what’s on the list is accomplished, Price said.

 His guess is it won’t all be done because the Preston DOH needs more manpower and money.

“Charleston is the answer,” he said.

 And while the DOH’s interactive map of roadwork is nice, Stone noted, the county is also plagued with poor internet. Price agreed.

Roads caucus

All three agreed it might be worthwhile to reinvigorate the North Central Roads Caucus, which has not met since April 2019. The caucus included county commissioners and state representatives from each of the six counties in the DOH’s District 4.

They worked together to promote roads legislation in the 2019 legislative session. The bills passed through the legislature but were  vetoed by the governor.

The primary, winter and COVID-19 got in the way of the caucus, Smith noted. “It’s one thing to have a teleconference but another to have people in the room together,” he said.

Stone said the caucus needs to power up with a plan on how to make changes in Charleston.

  “I thought it was real effective for a while,” Price said. He suggested contacting the other counties to see if they still have road issues. If they do, it may be time to restart the meetings, Price said.

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