(12/18/2006)
Division of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox says the highway department needs another $250 million just to maintain the state's highway system.

Mattox says that kind of cash may never land in the DOT bank account.

"Any additional funding the state would provide the state Road Fund, we would put that revenue toward our resurfacing program and our bridge replacement program," he said.

In Calhoun County there is a list of to do jobs on short-stretches of re-paving, re-painting center lines and a couple of bridge jobs through 2011.

A number of funding options were discussed last week by the Division of Motor Vehicles, suggesting a $10 increase in what West Virginia motorists pay for license plates.

The fee is currently $30. The change could increase the Road Fund by $13 million.

There are lots of roads in West Virginia, a total of 36,000 miles. The state ranks sixth in the nation when it comes to the number of miles under DOT control.

The department says the interstate system and Appalachian highways, are in good condition, admitting the "off-the-main-drag" county road system in West is starting to show its age, with little resurfacing money.

The Division of Motor Vehicles said they will ask the legislature to raise the fee on license plates.

Money isn't the only thing the highway department is worried about.

Deputy state highway engineer Jim Sothen said the department is short-staffed and has a disproportionately aging work force.

Sothen estimates that more than half of the highway department's 4,667 employees will be eligible for retirement within five years.


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