(11/27/2007)
West Virginia highways are in the worst shape they have been for years. Not only is the financial inability to complete major connecting highways that have been proposed for years, building new bridges that are rapidly becoming unsafe, but repaving has also become a big problem.

State highway officials say there is no plan to outsource or privatize the state's highway department, a fear expressed this year by employees.

However, there is more talk about public-private ventures.

The Chairman of the group, West Virginians for Better Transportation recently wrapped up a series of public meetings focused on the state's transportation system.

"Each of them had their own particular concerns as far as which projects should be built, but the overriding theme was 'we've been waiting too long for these projects,'" said Chair Joe Denault.

Meetings were held in Beckley, Huntington, Charleston, Morgantown, Martinsburg, Bluefield and Wheeling.

Denault said the comments his group heard will be passed on to Gov. Joe Manchin's Administration and members of the State Legislature.

Denault said it's clear there is no easy way to address the road construction needs in West Virginia immediately.

"The Administration is really grappling for a way to try to address many of these projects. I think that we're going to be hearing a lot about public-private ventures and seeing if there's some way that they can play a part. Certainly, that may be possible for some of the projects that are involved," Denault said.

For the past several years, funding for road construction in West Virginia has been flat, even as construction costs have risen.


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