Gov. Jim Justice called all district engineers and county supervisors within the state Division of Highways to the Capitol for a meeting at the Culture Center earlier this week, where the Governor directed all DOH officials to get to work identifying and prioritizing secondary road maintenance needs across the state.
“I’m going to give you 72 hours to write down every single road, every road that’s in your county, every single thing that you think is wrong,” Justice said. “Then I’m going to give you another 24 hours on top of that to categorize them: these are the really bad, these are the really important and these are just stuff that’s wrong.”
During the meeting, Justice also reiterated his intention to prioritize road maintenance as the main focus of the DOH moving forward.
The Governor asked DOH officials in each district to use the same 72-hour window to also identify what materials, equipment, or manpower is needed for each district to be able to conduct aggressive maintenance to fix the roads and to keep them in good shape at all times in the future. Justice said that once he gets all the reports from each DOH district and county in the state, he will enlist the help of Revenue Secretary Dave Hardy to find the most fiscally-responsible solution possible.
“We’re going to rely on Secretary Hardy to come up with as many dollars as he can come up with,” Justice said. “And then you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to fix the damn roads.”
Speaking with the media after the meeting, Justice said his mission is to help improve driving conditions for every West Virginian.
“We’re coming, and we’re coming with every dollar that we’re going to have,” Justice said. “I don’t want to build any false promises that we’re going to be able to fix every single place on day one, you’re not going to be able to do that, this is decades of neglect.
“But, just to tell it like it is, we’re going to continue to try to fix everything that we possibly can as fast as we possibly can and you’re going to see a real significant impact of what we’re doing,” Justice said. “We will make a significant impact and then, from that, we hope we will grow into a philosophy of maintenance-first to where all of a sudden that will propel us to make an even more significant impact and, before you know it, we will get them all done.”
Justice added that, once the secondary roadwork begins, he will continue to work with Secretary Hardy to ensure other major road improvement projects stay on track for completion.
“It doesn’t mean that we take away from our Roads to Prosperity program,” Justice said. “We’ll get every single road, every single bridge, we’ll get every single thing done in our Roads to Prosperity program.”
At the end of his address, the Governor urged DOH officials to waste no time in getting back to their offices and getting to work.
“I’m done,” Justice said. “I’d say go home, you’ve got 71 hours and just a few minutes now.”